Special gravel coverage

Cold commute open thread

Posted by on December 5th, 2013 at 7:16 am

Frosty Esplanade

Frost on the Esplanade floating path yesterday morning.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

How are you dealing with the cold conditions?

We’ve had record-setting cold temps this week (and they’re not over yet) and we’re curious how everyone is coping. Have you figured out a way to stay warm? Or have you ditched the bike altogether for the warmth of the MAX, bus, or your car?

Yesterday PBOT issued a warning about icy spots on the Hawthorne Bridge deck. Have you seen other danger spots that folks should know about?

If you are new to biking and you’re looking for some tips, check out the 100+ comments full of great advice from a post we did during a cold spell last year.

And if you’re more of a visual learner, or just want some inspiration to get out their and ride through these conditions, check our the People on Bikes: Cold Commute Edition we published in 2011.

Stay warm, keep riding, and share your experiences and thoughts about the cold weather below.

Please support BikePortland.

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • armando December 5, 2013 at 7:22 am

    Must have had some moisture in my brake cable because my brakes stayed on after I released the grip. Took a few manual caliper openings before things go back to normal.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • SewCrates December 5, 2013 at 7:33 am

    Other than turning more carefully and adding enough layers to overheat instead of shiver it’s been business as usual for me. That said, my commute is from Lents to Hollywood, so no frosty bridges involved.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • SJ December 5, 2013 at 7:36 am

    Drove. Mostly because of Cathy Hastie’s piece.*

    *This is a joke.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • JV December 5, 2013 at 11:20 am

      I drove too, as I was afraid that my choice to wear lightweight, normal clothing would be seen as a sign of arrogance in the face of the hazard of being cold.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Chris I December 5, 2013 at 7:37 am

    I’ve been driving to my job out in Fairview this week. The frigid temperatures at 5am, strong east wind, and chance of icy spots while sharing the road with fast moving vehicles has proved to be too much. I’ve been riding as much as I can on the weekends during the day to reduce my car use. Hopefully it warms up a bit next week.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Doug Rosser December 5, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      I broke my leg in a couple places two Januaries ago on some black ice. Better safe than sorry.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • aaron December 5, 2013 at 7:38 am

    alas… i’m on the bus…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Schrauf December 5, 2013 at 7:41 am

    Some of the best riding of the year! Very dry, and so the only slick spots are in fairly obvious areas (some bridges, leaves, puddles that froze).

    Well, other than near the hotel downtown this morning, where someone decided 20 degrees is a good temperature to spray down a sidewalk. Okay, maybe there was deicer involved, but there was definitely water involved, and it did not look good. As always, watch out for STUPID! It’s always out there.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Todd Hudson December 5, 2013 at 8:06 am

    PBOT must be spraying some sort of ice-melting solution on slippery areas…the NE 12th Ave bridge over 84 was sprayed with something, and it wasn’t as nearly as icy as yesterday.

    I’m glad they did this.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Greg December 6, 2013 at 1:10 am

      I think the same thing was sprayed on the Burnside bridge. There are white lines from something.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Granpa December 5, 2013 at 8:08 am

    I drove yesterday and it was dreadful – I tried the Sellwood Bridge and it was dead-stopped. It took me 45 minutes driving for a commute that takes me 25 minutes biking. Today I biked. No such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Sam December 5, 2013 at 8:17 am

    If given the choice, I’d take 26 degrees and dry over 36 and wet everytime.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Alan Love December 5, 2013 at 8:54 am

      Agreed. I’m really digging this weather. This was actually a month or two ago, but on some chilly morning, climbing up the hill on Lincoln at ~25th-ish, a dad was taking his kid to school on a longtail. The kid, in a non-complainy way, said “It’s cold!” Dad turned and said, “Yeah, but it let’s you know you’re ALIVE!” in a very Jack Black over-enthusiastic sort of way. I thought that was pretty awesome.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Mindful Cyclist December 5, 2013 at 10:20 am

      And, I will take 26 over 96 everyday.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Cold Worker December 5, 2013 at 3:24 pm

        Over 86 also. And sometimes even 76. 66 I’m good with.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Mindful Cyclist December 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm

          66 degrees. No jacket require and no excessive sweat. Very much the ideal.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

    • JV December 5, 2013 at 11:34 am

      Absolutely – the ride in has been great. Low temps > precipitation any day. I am not even really changing the wardrobe much. Just a pair of gloves and a pair of the Gigi’s Handyworks helmet earwarmers – my commute is only 20 minutes but I was plenty warm when I got there.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Craig Harlow December 5, 2013 at 8:19 am


    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • SV December 5, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      Yep Balaclava. Weird to not see it used more on my route. Instead I see bright red faces. Tougher than me, I guess.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • John Lascurettes December 5, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      I don’t like breathing my own steam. Just too gross and clammy. I prefer Helfmuffs (disclaimer: my wife makes them, but I really do prefer them).

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • jeff December 5, 2013 at 5:59 pm

        She should make some of these with bicycles on them

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Terry D December 5, 2013 at 8:24 am

    I have actually intentionally gone for several rides during this cold snap as it makes me slightly nostalgic. My Wisconsin friends are having highs of 9…winter riding to school in the 1990s makes this look balmy by comparison.

    It is all about layers and covering fingers/ ears.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Brian December 5, 2013 at 8:42 am

      Same here. I remember heading to class in Oshkosh once with temps of -45 with the wind chill. I have been riding from NE Portland out to Hillsboro this week and it has been fine. Yesterday’s view of Hood with from Washington Park was amazing. I had to stop and hang out for a bit to enjoy. I was surprised to see so many other riders in Beaverton, too. The car crash on the entrance to the Hawthorne Bridge was a little freaky, and made me happy to be on the bike.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Alex Reed December 5, 2013 at 8:27 am

    I went all out: leather boots, wool socks, lined leather gloves, awesome lined “bike mitts” that look like handlebar/hand pillows semi-permanently velcroed to my handlebars ($30 from an awesome acquaintance at BikeCraft on Sunday!), wool peacoat, thick wool scarf, wool hat, and earmuffs. Phew!

    When I got to work, my legs and toes were a little cold but everything else was nice and toasty. That’s a trade-off I’m willing to make – I’d rather not take the time to change socks or pants at work. For some reason, I prefer using the time to comment on BikePortland 🙂

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • SilkySlim December 5, 2013 at 8:29 am

    I learned that my gloves are great down to about 35 degrees, but no lower! Cradling a hot cup of coffee right now, plotting a lunch trip to procure something warmer.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • pdxpaul December 5, 2013 at 11:18 am

      Try mittens over gloves. Fleece mittens mop up snot real well.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • spencer December 5, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      Heavy vest will warm your hands right up

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jeff December 5, 2013 at 8:31 am

    25 minute bike commute home was over an hour by transit. Biked today. I’m glad I grew facial hair earlier this fall.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • was carless December 5, 2013 at 10:15 am

      Indeed, beards for the win! My face wasn’t cold at all since I let it grow over the past few weeks.

      I biked yesterday, and it was amazing. I do recommend wool undergarments, t-shirts and socks are great and keep you toasty. I’ve been wearing normal cotton or wool coats for the top layer so that your body can still get air circulation. If you wear a rain jacket, you will get overly sweaty!

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • q`Tzal December 9, 2013 at 9:48 pm

        Source for wool undergarments? My usual search process only turns up items that have “cosmetic” amounts of wool in them: less than 25%.
        Since the wool is the important part my searching is frustrated by our current inability to search by fabric content.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Paul Atkinson December 5, 2013 at 8:46 am

    I swapped out my bike helmet for my snowboarding helmet and started wearing long sleeves and my heaviest gloves.

    From Irvington to Lake O I found no bad spots, and only had to deal with my toes being cold and my glasses fogging up at stoplights. It’ll have to get a lot colder to have to gear up any further (but the next step is definitely warmer shoes).

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Kristen December 5, 2013 at 3:27 pm

      I’ve always wondered why my glasses only fog up when I’m stopped. Do you have an explanation?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • El Biciclero December 5, 2013 at 9:19 pm

        I experience the same thing (as I’m sure everyone with glasses does unless they know the magic secret–spit, potato, soap, rain-x, fog-x, Pledge…none of those has really worked long-term for me), and my only explanation is that since the fog is caused by warm, moist air hitting cold lenses, one of the two has to go: Either warm up the lenses, or clear out the warm, moist air. I think when you’re moving, the air flow blows enough of the warm moisture away. I find that if I am stopped at a light with my glasses fogging up, if there is any kind of breeze and I can turn sideways to it, it clears up the glasses pretty nicely. Wearing rimless (on the bottom) frames or letting your specs ride farther down your nose can increase the airflow behind the lenses and helps a little.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Joe December 5, 2013 at 8:47 am

    The bridge counter at 530pm was 2745 ppl.. nice!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mindful Cyclist December 5, 2013 at 8:58 am

    I woke up yesterday and got in the shower debating the bus vs cycling to work. Kind of resigned to taking the bus since I had heard of freezing fog. But, I was walking out the door and there goes the bus. So, I took it as a sign and hopped on the bike.

    I rode today as well. And, today was not near as bad. I guess there was less condensation in the air as I did not see near as much frost on the road. Yesterday, the Burnside Bridge bike lane had a lot of frost and today there was none, thankfully. And, it looked frosted over going WB when the lane ends, but it is just residue from the de-icer from what I can tell.

    Things I do when it gets cold like this?
    *Ditch the cycling gloves for the ski gloves.
    *Consider a pair or wind breaker or water resistant pants over your other pants.
    *Just like motorists, I give myself a few exta minutes.
    *Don’t over do it if I found out I did not dress warm enough. Trimet has an app now for your smart phone (if you got one) or just carry a few extra passes around with you. Also, I am used to the cold weather being from Montana. You may not be so again, don’t over do it.
    *I use a microfleece earband I can easily fit under my helmet. I see some people put a stocking cap underneath the helmet and the helmet then no longer fits properly and the helment does not work like it is supposed to.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Terry D December 5, 2013 at 9:15 am

      I always get the helmets with the adjustable part in back. Then, when I have to put a hat on I just loosen it a bit then tighten it back once the helmet is on. Works very well….my ears tend to get cold easily and that makes me unhappy.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • BicycleDave December 5, 2013 at 9:29 am

        There are ear muffs called 180s that wrap around the back of your head. They work great with helmets. http://tinyurl.com/m6dqkdg

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Tessa December 5, 2013 at 10:04 am

      To keep my ears and neck warm but maintain helmet fit I wrap a light scarf over my head, cross the ends at my chin, and tie it in the back. It looks a bit Ellis Island but it’s super cozy.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Kristen December 5, 2013 at 3:29 pm

        Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll have to try this with my fleece scarf.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wade December 5, 2013 at 9:04 am

    loving the sun and cold. and no wind! just added a couple of layers to my normal garb and a NYer cover as a chest-level breeze shield. One NYer cover eliminates the need for an extra layer.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Paula F. December 5, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Continue to commute by bike. Wool base layers, Goretex lined gloves, ear band under helmet, buff for neck and mouth/nose. Riding slower, enjoying the beautiful morning views and light going from Mt. Tabor to downtown.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • JimR December 5, 2013 at 9:09 am

    …just kept smiling… so sunny, I forgot my face was frozen.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Sean S. December 5, 2013 at 10:00 am

      Careful. Your face might stick that way! 🙂

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Big Spender December 5, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Rapha Hardshell and a cashmere scarf…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • jeff December 5, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Just not riding quite as fast due to the wind chill. Nothing else has really changed.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • GlowBoy December 5, 2013 at 9:17 am

    What cold? With a studded front tire, balaclava, ski gloves and goggles, wool longies and a down jacket, I’m barely affected — except now I’m sweatier than usual. Bring on the teens!

    (Perspective: Here’s the current NWS forecast for my native Minneapolis: “This Afternoon: Patchy blowing snow before 1pm. Mostly sunny, with a high near 9. Wind chill values as low as -10. Breezy, with a west wind 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Tonight: Partly cloudy, with a low around -7. Wind chill values as low as -19. West wind around 10 mph.”)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • John Liu
    John Liu December 5, 2013 at 9:37 am

    I ride year-round regardless of weather, unless there is actually snow on the roads. For this weather, I simply added a beanie/skull cap (bought at Bikecraft last weekend) under the helmet, to cover my ears. It is the time of year when I’m already wearing rain pants, booties, rain jacket, light fleece sweater, and medium-weight gloves, and that is enough for these temperatures. I’m chilly for the first few blocks but comfortable thereafter.

    The roads have been okay. Things that are usually slippery (painted lines, manhole covers, etc) are more slippery. Bridges look a bit suspicious, I use Burnside and Hawthorne. I just take it a bit easy. I ride during off-hours (in at 5 am, usually back at 3 pm) so I don’t know what traffic has been like. You do have to assume drivers have less visibility than normal, what with frosty or foggy windshields.

    For most commute routes, there’s no reason for this weather to stop us from riding.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • RJ December 5, 2013 at 9:48 am

    Balaclava, warm gloves. A reliable 22-minute commute is a reliable 22-minute commute no matter what the temperature. Transit takes longer and is more annoying, and driving costs a lot and puts me in a pissy mood. A smidgen of frostbite is a small price to pay, and really, it just makes my morning coffee that much more satisfying when I get in to work.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • John December 5, 2013 at 9:49 am

    I havent bike commuted in about 2 weeks. Today I did the 75min bike commute and I was hurting. My fingers suffered the worst, I need better gloves. Hopefully a bit warmer than 22 deg F on the ride home.
    Think I am going to drive tomorrow….

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mark Markovich December 5, 2013 at 9:51 am

    Keeping warm except for my toes. Two pairs of wool socks aren’t cutting it. Any suggestions?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Joe December 5, 2013 at 10:00 am

      put some hot hand inserts in ski gloves if you have and ur shoes.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • TOM December 5, 2013 at 10:25 am

      plastic quart shopping bags around your sox, before shoes. dry & warm.

      I’m using snowboarding helmet (with ear flaps and vent blockers IN) & goggles. Nose , lips & chin were cold until I stopped and put on the Balaclava, then things were MUCH better. You only need a thin one ..mine=$8 (delivered) from eBay, seller=SoupyDumpling. Glove liners too.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Brian December 5, 2013 at 1:17 pm

      Booties. Keep the cold from getting in the shoe. I wear them for rain and/or cold.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • spencer December 5, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      oversocks, just use an old tube sock and cut a hole for the cleat

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • jeff December 5, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      shoe covers.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Chelsea December 5, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      Keeping your legs warm helps to keep your feet warm. I am wearing a single pair of wool socks because two pairs makes my shoes tight. On my legs I’m wearing silk long johns under fleece-lined tights and my feet have been warm, even this morning. My fingers on the other hand, not so much…

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Dave Miller December 5, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      Got any rain booties that go over your shoes? I found those really warm.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • q`Tzal December 9, 2013 at 9:56 pm

      Make sure your shoes aren’t too tight with extra socks.

      It is a simple reflex to put on more insulation and stuff the a larger bulk in to the same sized shoe but a subtle increase in pressure over the entire surface area of the foot decreases blood flow which leads directly to chilly tootsies.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Ian December 5, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Hit a nice long ice patch on NE Broadway just as a school bus was passing me. Stayed upright, but that was pretty hair-raising.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • K'Tesh December 5, 2013 at 9:57 am

    learned that carrying extra handwarming packets can make you friends. Poor young college student was stuck at a bus stop for 45 minutes in Tigard because of a re-route that she didn’t know about. She was so cold that she was crying from the pain when we picked her up. Handwarmers, and a convenient service dog served to get her feeling better, a cup of coffee also helped. Now I have a new friend.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Garlynn December 5, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Took my son in to daycare on the bike this morning; driving wasn’t an option, as I forgot to fill up over the past several weeks, and the biodiesel in both cars is still B99, which I’m told has a gel point of 29 degrees. With 25 degrees this morning, I just assumed it was game over for the cars until it warms up a bit.

    So, my son was excited about riding over frozen muddy puddles and hearing the ice break under the weight of us on the bike; except more than half of the puddles were frozen so solid that they didn’t even groan under the strain!

    I was wearing rain pants over jeans over silk long johns, wool socks inside Docs (which aren’t really quite insulated enough but they were fine for the 15 minute ride each way to/from preschool), turtleneck and sweater under a quilted wool jacket, with a silk-lined wool scarf, and a microfleece headband up top. He had his normal school clothes on under a full Columbia snow suit (pantsuit with jacket on over it, both 100% waterproof and insulated), with his hood up underneath his helmet. We both noticed the cold on our cheeks but were otherwise quite warm enough, I was even toasty from the riding…

    Bicycling = much, much better than driving!!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • JV December 5, 2013 at 11:53 am

      Yup, any B99 is definitely gelled up by now. Jay’s Garage and all other stations have switched over to B50 a few weeks ago. While gelled biodiesel is a good motivator to keep biking, if you do want to get it started it is often possible to use a blowdryer or hot water to warm up the fuel system (careful not to get water around electrical components) That and a few cycles of the glow plugs should get it started if your engine is in good shape. But what am I saying….keep biking!

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Sean S. December 5, 2013 at 10:02 am

    Has anyone gone over the Interstate Bridge yet? Last week it was considerably warmer over the water than over land but I haven’t gone over it in a few days.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Joe December 5, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Anyone having lights get effected by the cold? seems it can drain batteries even if new lights, wish I had some gen lights 😉 also cover ur face so key right now

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Sean S. December 5, 2013 at 10:09 am

      Yup. The rechargables are needing a plug in every one to two days or so right now with 1.5 hr commute a day.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Mindful Cyclist December 5, 2013 at 10:24 am

      My wireless cyclometer works for about the first half mile and then stops. And, have noticed the front light seeming to have less power.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Todd Boulanger December 5, 2013 at 1:58 pm

      Dynamo lamps do not have this issue in our climate.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Greg December 6, 2013 at 1:46 am

        I love my dynamos 🙂

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Matthew Rogers December 5, 2013 at 10:34 am

    It seemed like there was a little bit more camaraderie with other bikers I’ve encountered in this weather–like we’re in this together. (Not that other bikers are not friendly in other weather).

    I had a neck/lower face cover that kept my breath somewhat unfrozen.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rain panther December 5, 2013 at 10:37 am

    “Deploy emergency backup gloves!”
    Before I left home I stuffed a second pair of gloves into my front jeans pockets, then put on rain pants over jeans. After about 5 miles I stopped at a red light and pulled out my pre-warmed gloves, which made the final mile or so bearable.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wilf December 5, 2013 at 10:42 am

    2-3 long sleeve shirts
    windproof jacket
    hat under helmet
    windproof tight on top of normal tights
    $2 gloves

    face and lungs nippy, but opening vents after about 4 miles.

    So much better than rain.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • javith December 5, 2013 at 10:49 am

    I love this cold, crisp riding weather! Glorious, and some of my very favorite.
    Fine print: I’m part polar bear, so I can get away with a lot. This morning:cashmere knee socks under Canari tundra tights with knee warmers pulled over those to protect the joints. My daily Dominators with neoprene booties to cut the draft. Hind Powerfleece shrug (so I can dump heat from my belly), Ibex wool jersey, PI quilted cycling vest. Fleece OR gloves, fleece OR neck warmer that I pull up and use as a headband. I mention the brand names because these are specific pieces that have held up really well, often with daily wear and regular washing.
    What I have noticed is that frequently, the people who say they are cold are often wearing too much, sweating, then getting chilled. And more layers can make you colder if you end up compressing out insulating dead air space.
    I do keep an extra layer (or two) handy so I can weather standing around changing a flat.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Dave Miller December 5, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      I agree with your “glorious!” and your advice about over dressing/sweat causing cold. I’m in a long sleeve t-shirt and either down jacket or p-coat (tried each the last two days). A little cold is OK. Sweaty is not!

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • John Lascurettes December 5, 2013 at 7:11 pm

      Hmm. For me it’s the opposite, it’s many layers that are thin that work for me (particularly with zippers). With thin layers you just open them up as you heat up or close them up as you cool down. I didn’t open any of my three layers this morning. 😉 Light wool base layer + dry-fit shirt + Showers Pass Portland jacket.

      With any thick bulky item there’s nothing you can do but overheat or over chill.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Dave Miller December 6, 2013 at 12:57 am

        I volunteer as a ski patroller on Mt Hood and absolutely use your technique of lots of expensive layers of to stay comfy up there in any weather. But this winter, for biking, I’m trying to simplify and free myself from requiring technical gear and a change of clothes at either end of my ride. So I start with my normal street/work clothes–tennis shoes, jeans, and a t-shirt–and go minimally from there.

        Both the down jacket and the p-coat have a full length front zipper. So far, that’s given me sufficient flexibility. This week in the AMs coat is zipped up, in the PM, zipper is mostly open. Add some ski gloves and a beanie under my helmet and that’s the compete cold weather get-up. For rain, I’ve been loving this cheap rubber bike poncho and tall neoprene/rubber boots–normal street clothes underneath.

        I’ve got Ice Breaker merino base layers, and vented Showers Pass waterproof breathable everything but I’m tired of having to carefully strategize and gear up so particularly for the weather. I’ve been testing to see if all of that is really necessary and so far I’m finding it’s not. I can add just the few of the right things to my normal work clothes and I’m A-OK. (My work attire is admittedly casual. This wouldn’t work with the full suit and tie I wore in a previous career.)

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • javith December 6, 2013 at 7:26 am

        To clarify, I’m not anti-layer; I wear more of them when needed and adjust as necessary. I just see lots of people over-layered who then don’t take the time to unzip or stop to remove them before they overheat and get sweaty. Or use cotton as a base layer. It’s totally OMG Cotton Kills™ weather out there.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Alan 1.0 December 6, 2013 at 2:37 pm

          OMG Cotton Kills™

          *chuckle* Love it. 🙂

          Seriously, I get it when it comes to cotton and survival…from wet bulb thermometer theory and heat transfer modes to the reality that lack of shelter (including clothes) is the most likely thing to kill me (and the earliest thing after trauma) in a survival situation. I’ve even posted about it in the forums.

          But c’mon…is commuting to work in Portland really a survival situation? I just went out for a 20-min walk (not ride, so as not to be too arrogant) and I wore cotton canvas pants, cotton shorts, a cotton rugby shirt over a cotton t-shirt, an insulated cotton canvas jacket, hiking boots with wool socks, fleece hat and gloves. I was warm enough but wind/rain pants would have been nice if I’d been out longer. Adding a waterproof shell would take me down another 10F degrees or allow some standing around, but the gloves would need upgrading and I’d pull my hood over my hat. Around the metro area, I’ve observed that an extra layer of cotton sweats combined with decent rain gear and accessories (hat, boots, gloves, scarf, etc., appropriate to individual needs) could cover most folks’ needs.

          I’m not saying don’t wear other stuff if you have it and want to wear it. Wool, fleece and some polys are great! I have my share. I mostly wear it when I’m outside the city or out-of-doors for more than an hour with uncertainty to exposure and moisture. To me, it’s relatively expensive and some of it is a bit harder to wash (oh, and another arrogance!). All I’m saying is that for me–and for lots of others–cotton is a totally reasonable and workable part of a layering system for around town in this kind of weather.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Dave Miller December 6, 2013 at 4:12 pm

            Yes. Jeans, t-shirts, and hoodies have been my staples this fall (until this week). I’ve never sweat so little. I’ve happily ditched a lot of technical apparel.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

  • AndyC of Linnton December 5, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Yeah, totally digging it completely. The ever-present Highway30 winter bike lane puddles are a little frozen up, so i just slow and use caution, but they’re not too huge since it’s been so dry.
    After the initial eye-watering and face seizing cold, the ride warms you up nicely.
    If only the home were that warm. Might have to start dancing in the evening around the radio like it’s 1935.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • pdxpaul December 5, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Laced up the kicks and ran. It’s only 6 miles, so no biggie, but I just don’t do ice on 2 wheels after breaking my wrist a few years ago. That nonsense is for the shirtless kids…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • craig December 5, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Walking instead of biking. You can’t always see the frost spots and black ice. One time it was a spilled cup of coffee that created the ice spot on the turn that nearly broke my elbow. Random, I know- but memorable.

    caveat: I don’t have studs on my bicycle tires.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Tom December 5, 2013 at 11:19 am

    There’s a bike ride tomorrow night to see the Christmas Ships up close on their inaugural cruise in town down North Portland Harbor (see shift2bikes.org calendar). I’ll be bundling up more, as a couple hours out in the cold is a bit longer than my 20 minute commute!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wilf December 5, 2013 at 11:21 am

    It’s nice most of the bicyclists that are riding are fast, so one doesnt’ worry about being too arrogant.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Editz December 5, 2013 at 11:48 am

    I’ve found that my Shimano Alfine 8 IGH shifter doesn’t want to upshift after about 20 minutes in the cold. Jiggling the cable seems to help it work, albeit sluggishly. Anyone have a technical explanation for that? Isn’t it just a metal cable in a plastic sleeve? Didn’t figure there would be that much allowance for expansion/contraction.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 5, 2013 at 11:57 am

      That same exact thing happened to me this morning Editz! I stopped and manually pulled the cable. Not ideal. Wish it didn’t crap out in freezing temps.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Editz December 5, 2013 at 12:00 pm

        Is this your Breezer Finesse or another bike? I don’t remember this problem last year, but my Finesse didn’t have to deal with 18 degree mornings either.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Todd Boulanger December 5, 2013 at 1:59 pm

        Next time…order the plug in heater block for your hub. 😉

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Alan 1.0 December 5, 2013 at 12:07 pm

      First guess: moisture in the cable. Best fix: pull the cable, dry it out including the housing (compressed air helps), regrease, reinstall, adjust. My world: back off the adjusters so the top of the cable housing is loose, squirt WD40 into the housing until it dribbles out the bottom, then apply a light lube like TriFlo, adjust.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Alex Reed December 5, 2013 at 2:16 pm

        Seconded. My Shimano Nexus 8 IGH had this exact issue when I used to store my otherwise moisture/corrosion/everything-resistant Dutch bike outside uncovered. The culprit was indeed water in the cable housing.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Chelsea December 5, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      Yesterday I was unable to shift on my entire ride in. Last night I stored the bike in my kitchen instead of the garage and it was only toward the end of my commute that the shifting was getting reluctant.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • chris December 5, 2013 at 11:55 am

    I hate rain pants, because they’re overly hot, humid and weigh you down. I like the Shower’s Pass rain shorts, which I wear over mountain biking shorts, which i wear over cycling tights. For the torso, I wear an Under Armour base layer and a shell rain jacket. Lobster gloves and a cycling beanie. That’s sufficient for as cold as 10 degrees.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Anne Hawley December 5, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Some of the best advice I’ve gotten came from this column last year: if your feet and are cold BEFORE you put on the socks and gloves, the socks and gloves won’t warm them up–your body just receives the “cold extremities” signal and shunts more resources to the torso.

    I’ve been pre-warming both fingers and tootsies before layering on the wool socks/gloves/mitts/shoes, and it makes a very big difference to my comfort.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Greg December 6, 2013 at 1:49 am

      we pre-warm gloves on the heater vents in the floor -> toasty 🙂

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Justin December 5, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Warm, lined riding gloves; wool socks with boot covers over the shoes; cold weather base layers under my Showers Pass jacket; and my riding cap, which covers my ears. Still wearing my shorts, though, as my legs really never get cold, regardless of temperature.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • grimm December 5, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Just threw on some long johns under my normal jeans, flannel and fleece lined soft shell. Oh and brought out the snowboarding gloves. Couldnt find my baclava.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Brian December 5, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Also, my normally dependable Winter gloves weren’t enough this week so I added a pair of fleece North face gloves over the top. Nothing fancy, just a thin fleece you can find in outlets anywhere. My hands were sweating the entire ride. Never got cold. Just buy some that are a little larger and use when needed.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • trikeguy December 5, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Well, first year with my Amfib tights – definitely nice down to 20.
    It’s easy to overdress on the upper body though, a wicking tee and therma-fit layer and my rain shell and I had to be careful not to sweat too much.
    Performance bike has a pair of lined/insulated gloves that are too warm at 35 but really nice at 20.
    Like someone above I use a helmet with a dial adjuster and just expand it and put an earwarmer on.
    Balaclava – anytime it gets below 35. You really want the air you breath to get a little heated/moistened in weather like this.
    Now I just have to do something about my toes, they got a little too cold this morning.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • mikeybikey December 5, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    i love these cold & sunny days. riding in it can be very cosy if you have mastered the fine art of cosiness. no special tips for staying warm, i just throw on a scarf, hat, winter gloves and my trusty wool duffle and that generally does the trick. i might take the bus if it dips below 15 or if there is a lot of ice on the road, but otherwise I don’t mind riding through the colder temps.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • TOM December 5, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    I’ve been stockpiling long sleeved T” shirts all summer just for these conditions. Cover that with a fleece and then a waterproof shell – GT (MUST have pit zips) and the top half is perfect. Lower half, I use the summer lycras (for the padding) with jeans over them and top off with rain pants.
    With the snowboard helmet (with ear flaps & vent covers) and goggles , I am nearly there. today I had to add the balaclava.

    Gloves ? waterproof with liners, but fingertips were still cold.

    Have started wearing a POLAR heart monitor. The sending unit is a band that goes over your heart , just below the breast level and around the back. That thing makes me overheat. I think its just not allowing airflow between belt area and neck area. When I remove it, temps go back down to good/normal.

    I ride 365, no matter (within reason) what the conditions are.

    rain pants ? I was going to go for the expensive SP, but did a little research. One of the resellers sites had a chart for water proofness and breath ability. On a 1 to 5 scale , they rated the SP a 5 on water resistant and a 1 on breathability. Heck I just go with cheap pants that are a 5 on water and 0 (zero) for breathing. Kirklands are made well and do the job. Doesn’t seem to make any difference between the cheap & expensive pants IMHO

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Dave Miller December 5, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      Why are you wearing rain pants when it’s completely dry?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • GlowBoy December 5, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    “Why are you wearing rain pants when it’s completely dry?”

    Because they stop the wind and keep your legs much warmer. Why would you wear a windbreaker when it’s not raining? Part of the confusion is referring to nylon pants as “rain pants”, something that only cyclists would do.

    Personally I have a pair of Gore-Tex ski pants that I’ll wear when it gets down into the mid teens, but honestly it was WAY too warm for me to have worn them today.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • TOM December 5, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    Dave Miller
    Why are you wearing rain pants when it’s completely dry?

    rain pants are just like a wind breaker , they deflect the cold air.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Dave Miller December 5, 2013 at 8:34 pm

      Got ya. If you’re not sweating with them, that could work.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BlindTiger December 5, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Work night shifts, here. Biked to work yesterday and this morning riding home, I decided that anything under 10 degrees I’m going to invest in goggles. My eyebrows about froze off!

    Bus to work today, since it’s supposed to be snowing pretty good down here in Medford by the time I get off in the morning. Forgot how fun the bus can be. Met some really nice ladies at the bus stop and shared coffee while we waited. Good times!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Chris Sanderson December 5, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Pedal hard! Keep the blood pumping, and that keeps me warm! I actually find that these cold weather days are invigorating, and I really don’t mind it that much!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mike December 5, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    Does anyone know of winter tires for bikes. Maybe something with a softer compound for grip?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Pat Franz December 5, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    As a recumbent geek, I get to ride with a front fairing. I get away with riding in regular clothes, but I’m thinking of digging out a pair of safety glasses for tomorrow. My eyes water a lot in the cold. Anybody else get that?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Dimitrios December 5, 2013 at 11:21 pm

      I finally had to get ski goggles for the cold weather. My eyes water pretty easily below 60F. In this weather it looks like I’m crying within 100ft and the tears gunk up my glasses.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • John Lascurettes December 5, 2013 at 11:33 pm

        Okay, it’s not just me then. My eyes tear like crazy in the cold. But just wearing any glasses helps immensely.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • BikeEverywhere December 9, 2013 at 12:45 pm

      Yes–I found a pair of clear safety glasses that don’t look too dorky at Home Depot. Work like a charm for around $10.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Matt December 5, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    I just loooove this weather! Up on Sandy Ridge in the snow this evening. Dropper post stopped working at 25 degrees and brakes were starting to give out out 15. Otherwise was warm and toasty in the woods with plenty of layers on. Beats the rain and mud any day.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • John Liu
    John Liu December 6, 2013 at 5:47 am

    Rode close east side to downtown this morning at 5 am. Very, very light snow was falling, but no signs of accumulation anywhere, roads were clear and Burnside Bridge was not overtly icy though I took it easy and didn’t really “test” it. 25F. Changed out bike gloves for ski gloves, wore a scarf and a windbreaker layer under the rain jacket, and was very comfortable.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Dave Miller December 6, 2013 at 8:28 am

      Burnside bridge was snowy but not icy at 8AM. My slicks, which are as bald as Sheldon Brown bless his soul, didn’t slip anywhere on my ride from Tabor to downtown.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Arrogant Cyclist December 6, 2013 at 7:55 am

    40 psi cross tires FTW!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • John Liu
    John Liu December 6, 2013 at 8:06 am

    Looking out my office window, snow is accumulating on streets and sidewalks downtown. Hmm. I may leave the bike at work and bus home. Who’s going to ride home anyway?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • GlowBoy December 6, 2013 at 8:48 am

      ” I may leave the bike at work and bus home. Who’s going to ride home anyway?” Funny, my thinking was the exact opposite. With the Gorge wind blowing so strong, I had been considering leaving the bike home and taking TriMet to work today. But with all this snow, the last thing I want to do is find myself 12 miles from home on the wrong wide of the West Hills, and let down by a transit system that historically hasn’t been totally reliable in wintry conditions.

      I hope to still take MAX for the downtown-Beaverton leg both ways, but I want to have my bike with me in case something goes wrong with the system. Because the bike the one mode I know I CAN count on to get me home no matter the conditions.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mindful Cyclist December 6, 2013 at 8:20 am

    But, alas… I did take the bus to work today. My weather apps said light snow when I got out of the shower, but I didn’t believe it. Then I looked out the window and it was more than light snow. I still thought about it, but then I remembered that many people who live here don’t know how to drive in snow.

    I just hope it eases up soon! If this sticks, it may be here a while as it is not going to warm up soon.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • spare_wheel December 6, 2013 at 9:56 am

      that is very light snow.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • GlowBoy December 6, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Agggh. Stupid PPS has blown the call AGAIN. Schools are closed up and down the coast, as well as all over the valley, and they didn’t even call a late start. Roads are slick and jammed up with crashes everywhere. I know it’s difficult when conditions are rapidly changing in the 6-7am hour, but it seems like they get this wrong as often as they get it right.

    I’m planning to go into work today, but as we’re currently debating whether to take our kid in to school late, or not at all. Might not be worth the risk. We’ve learned our lesson on this in the past.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • John Liu
    John Liu December 6, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Snow not falling at this time in downtown. Roads have visible snow on edges and between the tire tracks but should be no problem to drive (cautiously) on.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • pea December 6, 2013 at 11:27 am

    left my house about 6 a.m. today, regular bike commute from from St Johns to downtown. light snow, quiet and not slippery at all. between 7ish and 8:30 it seems like a lot more snow fell, so i’ll be doing a slip (and icy wind) test before deciding either to ride all the way tonight or maybe doing a MAX ride with the bike up the hill and riding the rest of the way (westward, hopefully with the wind) home.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • TOM December 6, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Stopped yesterday on the Springwater MUP to assist a rider trying to fix a flat in this cold weather. Your hands don’t work quite right when it’s this cold and it’s hard to change a flat with gloves ON.

    Guess I’d just remembered all the kindness from when I had a catastrophic sidewall blowout and had to push the bike. Had many offers of assistance.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • q`Tzal December 6, 2013 at 7:47 pm

      Lesse if I can post this here:
      Despite repeated requests over the years Bikeportland steadfastly adheres to a policy of treating the comment moderation system as an evil Pandora’s Box that never is to be touched.
      Even when asked directly for any indication of what consistently will get a comment rejected JM & friends keep silent. It would seem they enjoy the ambiguity.

      We know that if a you get a comment removed it seems to put you on a mandatory screening list for some period of time, like a day or so. So too for some profanity and some innocuous keywords. If you are a consistent agitator of the staff or the comments in a particularly big0ted manner you can get on long term list that automatically drops your comments in moderation hell.

      But nothing is solid because they won’t explain anything on the topic ever.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • q`Tzal December 6, 2013 at 7:55 pm

      One time, in frustration, I found a years old article and tried simple empirical experimentation to determine what gets blocked and not in comments.

      After a few blocks I wasn’t able to post anything for a couple days.
      I think even the KGB leaked their operational manuals more than this.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jeff December 9, 2013 at 10:04 am

    was carless
    Indeed, beards for the win! My face wasn’t cold at all since I let it grow over the past few weeks.
    I biked yesterday, and it was amazing. I do recommend wool undergarments, t-shirts and socks are great and keep you toasty. I’ve been wearing normal cotton or wool coats for the top layer so that your body can still get air circulation. If you wear a rain jacket, you will get overly sweaty!
    Recommended 1

    This morning, the beard iced up a little. Also maybe the counter on the Hawthorne is not working well with the cold. I crossed around 8 am and was only #25.

    Recommended Thumb up 0