Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

People on Bikes: Cold Commute Edition

Posted by on December 1st, 2011 at 10:22 am

More photos below.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Twas a bit nippy on the ride into work this morning. Perhaps the coldest commute we’ve had in quite some time around these parts. Frost was visible on the road and leaves and it was hovering near freezing when I left my house.

With all the scarves, gloves, and other methods people use to stay warm while riding, I thought it’d be fun to resurrect our People on Bikes series. I snapped this series on SW Broadway just before Davis in about 15 minutes. Check out the riding portraits below (I’ve numbered them in case you’d like to reference a specific one in the comments)…

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-1

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-2

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-3

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-4

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-5

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-6

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-7

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-8

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-9

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-10

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-11

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-12

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-18

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-17

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-13

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-14

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-15

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-16

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-19

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-20

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-21

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-22

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-23

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-24

People on Bikes- Cold Commute Edition-25

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Richard Masoner December 1, 2011 at 10:43 am

    I really enjoyed these as you uploaded them to Flickr to this morning. In the mid 30s in Portland today?

    There’s a guy I regularly ride with who amuses me with his weather bike wear here in California. When it drops down below about 60°F, he dons full on plastic pants and jacket, bulky fleece hat and long finger gloves. Last night, it was maybe 50 and he had thick ski gloves on!

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    • A.K. December 1, 2011 at 11:39 am

      Ha! I don’t understand how people ride like that? I get really hot when I ride, and perhaps some people are the opposite, they run cold? I dunno.

      My personal motto is to wear less and ride harder to stay warm, I just can’t stand bulky stuff while riding.

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      • April December 1, 2011 at 11:44 am

        I personally run fairly cold. I feel like I’m almost always wearing more layers than other people around me.

        What *really* sucks is when it’s cold and I’m layered up and then I ride, say, up a hill or something. My trunk can be sweaty, but my fingers/toes/nose will still be painfully cold. Bleh. I’m getting better at this, but still.

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        • BicycleDave December 3, 2011 at 12:30 pm

          Glove liners keep my fingers warm when it gets really cold.

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  • Nick V December 1, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Pearl Izumi lobster gloves. Don’t leave home without them.

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  • April December 1, 2011 at 10:51 am

    #7 is either a knitter or knows someone who is! Nice legwarmers (socks?) and mittens!

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  • Champs December 1, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Need to hook up with #24, show her my tool, and break a little some of that off. I mean seriously, that chain is way too long.

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    • Kristen December 1, 2011 at 11:23 am

      Wow! Until I got to the second sentence I thought you were saying something very dirty …

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    • Tony December 1, 2011 at 4:23 pm


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    • P Finn December 1, 2011 at 11:33 pm

      chain tension, rather than length, is, in fact, the issue here. TMYK

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    • Spokesy December 2, 2011 at 5:37 am

      I was hoping someone was going to catch that right away! Someone know who she is and get a hold of her? She will be so much happier and realize how much better her commute will be if we nip that one in the bum.

      I mean, there’s something for giving someone a “little slack” with their bike maintenance, but she’d appreciate it if we tightened up on her a lil’

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      • lyle December 2, 2011 at 10:37 am

        The chain also slacks like that if she’s right in the middle of a gear change as the picture is being taken. That would probably be the more likely scenario.

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    • Paul December 2, 2011 at 2:06 pm

      Props! Your mechanic’s generosity is very kind and attentive. But that comment is so awkward. Anyway, ride safe, and keep that tool well protected.

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  • Dave December 1, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Rider number 4 is hotttt! I love those jeans. Reminds me of my Levis 511 commuters. It is nice not to have a flapping jacket. Today it was 27 F as I rode my a.m. commute here in Cbus, OH. I wore my fleece lined leather mittens and just a yellow midweight fleece jacke over my butterfleece midlayer. Black stretch chinos stay outa the chain… its all good.

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    • Kenneth December 1, 2011 at 3:40 pm

      I hate it when people start rating the girls, my favorite is #22. She looks ready to rumble. No doubt on her way to a bike swarm.

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    • Thomas Le Ngo December 5, 2011 at 2:55 pm

      Number 6 is better. Faces are overrated.

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  • michael b December 1, 2011 at 11:02 am

    On my bikes, I use toe cages (per photo 10) and have made covers that fit over them out of heavy waterproof nylon. The covers stay attached to the pedals, so you don’t have to keep track of them. You slip your toes in and they stay dry and suffer far less wind cooling effect. Highly recommend. I also wear snow gaiters and with this combination stay pretty dry and warm.
    Neoprene gloves, such as kayakers wear, are great.

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  • 9watts December 1, 2011 at 11:10 am

    #6, yeah.
    Stay away from TSA, Police Tutrles, etc. though.

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  • daisy December 1, 2011 at 11:20 am

    This is my first fall commuting, and I’ve been surprised by how little I really need for my 3-mile commute, especially if it’s not raining. What I’d love to find are bike commuting pants like the Levi’s 511s, but made for women.

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    • Randall S. December 1, 2011 at 11:32 am

      If it makes you feel better, from what I understand the 511s aren’t really made for men either. I’ve read many complaints about the legs being way to narrow.

      That said: Outlier makes a good women’s riding pantaloon, but it’s a little pricey. Ah… that’s the only one I know of offhand though.

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      • daisy December 1, 2011 at 12:26 pm

        Yeah, the Outlier pants for women look good but cost $180. That’s more than I paid for my rain pants and rain jacket combined.

        Betabrand makes a women’s version of their Bike to Work pants, but only in khaki, and, more importantly, apparently completely out of stock. They’re $80, so more reasonably priced than the Outlier pants.

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  • Mike Fish December 1, 2011 at 11:27 am

    No matter the temp, I still just roll up my jeans to keep them out of the chain and trust my leg hair to keep me warm. It’s fine unless it’s raining. Then things must be done.

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    • Nick V December 1, 2011 at 12:14 pm

      I have to respectfully disagree. If hair kept one warm, then I could ride topless if you know what I mean and I think you do. But I’d be cold if I even tried that going downhill during the summer.

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      • Mike Fish December 1, 2011 at 12:50 pm

        The calves are different than “other parts!”

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  • Kristen December 1, 2011 at 11:28 am

    I love riding in nippy weather. This is the first year I’ve been equipped for it, and I’m so glad not to be constrained by cold and rain. Just the purchase of a fleece headband, late last winter, made a huge difference as I can wear it under my helmet to protect my ears.

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    • Paul Johnson December 1, 2011 at 11:51 am

      Yeah, about the only way the Springwater Corridor isn’t jammed.

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  • CharlieBurr December 1, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Rider #1 is a charming bagel server at Kettleman’s, who assures me that the recipe won’t change.

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  • Randall S. December 1, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Wowsa! I hope I don’t look that intense when I’m riding.

    #24 need her chain shortened, or her derailleur adjusted. Let her know if you know her!

    Also, all 25 of you look great.

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    • Tom M December 1, 2011 at 1:41 pm

      Intense is one word, I prefer focused, as in focused on getting to my destination and stop that wind chill!

      I thin most of us get that look in cooler weather, especially when riding alone. The smiles just come easier when there’s some to ride with.

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  • Tony H December 1, 2011 at 11:34 am

    ‘Twas cold, indeed! A preview of more to come, I’m sure.

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  • Paul Johnson December 1, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Quite a few people might as well not have been wearing helmets given how far off their head/far back on their head their helmet was.

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    • 9watts December 1, 2011 at 2:18 pm

      who besides #2 are you thinking of? I was actually surprised at the fraction that were or appeared to me to have their helmet pretty securely on their noggins.

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      • OnTheRoad December 1, 2011 at 6:07 pm

        19 and 21 have their helmet sitting pretty high. Probably get wrenched right off in a crash.

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      • Paul Johnson December 2, 2011 at 7:53 am

        1 and 2 both have their helmets pushed back, 5, 19, 21, 23 have their helmets quite high thanks to headgear under their helmet, and 10 has both going on.

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  • Jram December 1, 2011 at 11:58 am

    it’s amusing to me how strange a facial expression can look when it’s frozen in time. some of the looks captured are just comical (namely 13 & 18).

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  • Schrauf December 1, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    I love these photo streams. Reminds me of Urban Weeds, but for Portland bike commuters rather than Portland “pedestrians” – http://www.urbanweedsblog.com/

    Jonathan, would you say photo streams like this are a good cross section of the people passing by you at that point in time, or do you favor photos of more interesting people/bikes? I’m just curious how accurately the photos portray Portland bike commuters at the time and location you are shooting. Not that there would be anything wrong with editing out some photos – it’s not meant to be a research project. =)

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  • Paul H December 1, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    I stopped for the light at Washington and 3rd at about 6:30 this morning and another cyclist pulled alongside. We chatted about the cold, then I noticed he was wearing shorts. Not knicks, but geniune above-the-knee shorts.

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  • Bikesalot December 1, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    I think most of these folks are riding a lot less than 12 miles with a mountain at both ends.

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  • Travis December 1, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Hit my first ice of the season and went down, watch out on those turns!

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    • Champs December 1, 2011 at 2:24 pm

      Tell me about it. Had to pull up from a sharp right at some speed when I looked down at the pavement. That’s a flashback to Minnesota, almost any day between now and April.

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    • Spokesy December 2, 2011 at 5:42 am

      Did my first ice spill 12/1 as well! 90 degree left hand turn going at speed out of traffic. Still trying to figure out how I skinned up my elbow to the point of bleeding, but my two jackets, underarmor and shirt remained impervious to the road. Minivan lady thought I was down for the count, but I just couldn’t get unclipped!! Doh!

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      • Travis December 2, 2011 at 8:41 am

        Wow! Impressive!

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  • Deerhart December 1, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    But won’t they freeze to death without a helmet on? I don’t understand.

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  • Mindful Cyclist December 1, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I must still have a lot of Montana blood in me even after 7+ years here. I pedaled down to the MAX with my windbreaker, flannel shirt, and a thin pair of water resistant pants over my work slacks. And of course the ear band as my ears do get cold quickly and always have.

    The only thing that got cold for me were my fingertips and toes. I saw some very well bundled people up today on Ankeny a well.

    Lots of wet leaves, ice, the freezing fog. It was a hairy commute. I nearly wiped when I got off the Sunset Transit and made a turn, but did write myself thankfully.

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  • Tom M December 1, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Thankfully Portland isn’t nearly so cold as say Minnesota. There you really do have to watch for frostbite.

    Alaska has the Iditabike, and then there’s Ride the Divide, what about Portland?

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    • Machu Picchu December 1, 2011 at 6:19 pm

      Zoobomb. Duh.

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    • Paul Johnson December 2, 2011 at 7:47 am

      Complaining about the cold when the valley almost entirely lacks winter. Seriously, this hasn’t even hit windbreaker weather for me yet.

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  • jeremy December 1, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I love these shots. I’m shorts every day–rain, sun, cold, snow. I find rainpants make me sweat, pants get too wet (not today obviously) and keep me cold, but shorts: cold at first, dry quickly (as do my legs down from the knees. Secret advantage: 5 year old on back of xtracycle to keep me working hard!

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  • ambrown December 1, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Sent the link to my buddies in Minnesota – they are laughing at us pretty hard right now. “I could wear a tshirt in the thirties!”

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    • oliver December 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm

      Zero degrees- New York landlords finally turn up the heat. People in Scotland have the last BBQ before it gets cold.

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  • thefuture December 1, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    #11 put a lobster on it

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  • JRB December 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Let home about 7:15 this morning for the 4 mile ride from NE to downtown. Didn’t get cold but I did hold my breathe a few times worried about black ice.

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  • spare_wheel December 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    the chain on #8 has seen better days.

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  • Chris December 1, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Since we’re rating them, #7 has to be my fave!

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    • Kenneth December 1, 2011 at 5:14 pm

      Now I had to look again, definitively the most stylish of the girls. Gloves, socks and those shoes!! And lots of hair, it’s a toss up.

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  • andyk December 1, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    im suprised so many people wear helmets! kinda disappointed.

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  • PorterStout December 1, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    My wife suggested it might be too cold to ride today and that I might perhaps take the bus instead. As if! I don’t think most folks realize how warm you get once you really get moving.

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  • tn December 1, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    under 40F and I need ski goggles, otherwise my eyes are puffy & tearing up all day…guessing i’m the only one?

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  • dwainedibbly December 1, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Nice looking bunch, but after reading the comments I may have to go back & take another look…. 🙂

    Isn’t that NW (not SW) Broadway & Davis?

    I’m surprised that none of the helmeted riders are using a helmet cover, especially the ones wearing well-vented, sporty helmets. It’s a great way to block some of the chill on your head.

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    • April December 1, 2011 at 6:19 pm

      Speaking for myself, I find helmet covers to be…um…kinda dweeby-looking. I prefer a wool hat under my helmet, or a hood.

      I also have a Nutcase helmet now, which only has a few tiny holes. A helmet cover wouldn’t do me much good.

      A lot of people here are saying it looks like people’s helmets are ill-fitting, but I think a lot of is an illusion caused by hats. I have one hat that’s super-thin, but because it covers my ears, it makes it look like my helmet is too small of a sudden. Fits the same, though.

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    • Machu Picchu December 1, 2011 at 6:27 pm

      As for the helmet cover, I’d say it’s one more piece of gear to keep track of when you don’t use it, while a hat underneath can be worn after you get off the bike. I’m pickin’ up what you’re layin’ down, though. Sheldon Brown swore by taping the holes for winter, so you’re not the only one in favor of un-venting. Well, actually, if no one’s taken the hole-taping torch from Sheldon, you may be the only one.

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    • dmc December 1, 2011 at 6:54 pm

      When it gets this cold or when its raining, I’m always wearing my helmet cover. I also don a pair of homemade hel-muffs. Its a great combo and I never have to adjust my helmet.

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      • dan December 2, 2011 at 1:43 pm

        Pictures of said hel-muffs, please! I was just thinking that I needed so make something like that last night, biking home with my helmet jammed awkwardly over thick fleece earwarmers.

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  • MSB December 1, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    I like the wool helmets; fashionable and “safe”.

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  • Andycigarettes December 1, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    #3! Shoes! No rain in the winter!? Just a little cold? Count me all sorts of in!

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  • Alan 1.0 December 1, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    8 backpacks
    7 shoulder bags
    7 panniers
    0 combinations
    3 no visible baggage

    I’m ignoring the little yellow kit bag on #5.

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    • Mindful Cyclist December 2, 2011 at 9:19 am

      #23 is carrying an invisible bag.

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  • mh December 1, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    What’s with all the riders with racks on their bikes wearing backpacks? Do people really want their shirts to stick to their backs all morning?

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  • Natty December 2, 2011 at 12:50 am


    Let’s put cold in context 🙂 Up here in the Great White North, we have yet to see cold (-10C / 14F has been my coolest commute this autumn). I have just mounted my winter tyres, but have yet to break-out the insulated cycling boots and ski gloves. typically bundling-up before it hits -20C (-4F) only leaves me overheated and sweaty, which then creates problems if traffic delays are encountered (during which you cool-off).

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  • Doug Morgan December 2, 2011 at 4:04 am

    I picked up a pair of very inexpensive shooters fleece mittens. Fingerless gloves on the inside with a mitten to go over the fingers. I put on cycling gloves under and glove liners when it’s really really cold. They also ring right out when the get soaked and are quite warm when wet.

    When you take these mittens off, pull from the bottom or you get to resew the mitten back on. What do those lobster gloves cost $75 and these are less than $10 and give you easy access to your fingers, that might be handy, pun intended.

    I don’t find it that cold. I lived in Idaho and the cold is no big deal as long as you carry your water in a jersey pocket, unless you want to chew your water.

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  • cycler December 2, 2011 at 8:18 am

    I’ll say that my favorite new cycle accessory are “ear bags” – little ear warmers that “snap” over your ear. With limited holes in my bern helmet, I find a liner hat or the snap in liner are too warm once I get going, but my ears do get cold when it’s below about 30. Only problem is that the straps tend to knock them off, which I’ve solved by sewing little “leashes” which snap around the helmet straps- so even if they fall off my ears, they aren’t lost.

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    • 9watts December 2, 2011 at 8:21 am

      can you say a bit more about these ear bags? Where do you get them? I want some too.


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    • Doug Smart December 2, 2011 at 11:27 am

      My wife made a set of these for me last year. Great! Haven’t attached them to my helmet yet for this season. Prior to that, I had been coveting a set of Helmuffs.

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    • BicycleDave December 3, 2011 at 1:00 pm

      I use 180s ear muffs. They’re made to save your hair do, but this makes them work great with helmets as they go around the back of your head.

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  • Breesa December 2, 2011 at 9:40 am

    I love this series. More, please!

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  • lyle December 2, 2011 at 10:30 am

    I was riding towards downtown behind the prototypical fixie rider on Interstate blvd last week at about 10 at night, when it was around 25 degrees. Sporting jorts and headband.

    Passing a fellow biker at a high rate of speed rarely feels that good.

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  • Thomas Le Ngo December 5, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    The cold dry air wreaks havoc on my ears, nose and mouth, so a face mask is actually a necessity for me. I used to be able to go without one, but maybe age is just catching up with me.

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  • Paul H December 5, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    The conditions this morning, Mon., Dec 5, were far worse for me than last week’s. There was hoarfrost in the bike lanes and on residential streets for nearly the length of my 12-mile commute. I nearly crawled on descents and around corners. I saw one rider near the north end of Springwater who’d fallen taking at a corner (she was OK). I might delay tomorrow’s commute to wait for the sun to rise and thaw the roadways.

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  • gerald schuldt December 5, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Burrrrrr yes, but it’s really not all that cold! Here in the land of the Nanuk, or the most N.E. PDX SUBURB ie Spokane WA my commute this morning was more typical of January and February weather @ 9˚F with a wind chill that I won’t bother to commute, I mean compute & no lycra to boot. Standard issue for today’s daily fashion statement: On top; Outdoor Research WS Peruvian cap topped with a hand made wool hat I bought on my last trip to the PDX bicycle show, also a 20 year old REI neck gaiter. Just below on torso; an icebreaker tech T layered with a 200 w zip t overtop, followed by my other layer, an Arteryx Alpha LT jkt. Down below: covering my bottom; capalene leggings under cheap non-designer jeans & Smartwool hiking socks tucked into Keen Siskiyou WP ankle high shoes. The only variance for colder and or wetter conditions is on top a ski SCOTT goggle and below an OR Packlite Gortex angle zip pant. –cheers and spin hardy!

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