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Old 01-05-10, 09:26 AM   #1
macteacher
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Is my gear working properly?

Hi all,

At this time of year, I never know if I should post in the winter forum or in this one, since we are in the winter season.


Anyhow, I DID IT. TODAY was my first winter ride of the 2009-2010. It took me about 40 minutes, I was pretty slow and I found it tough hauling my steel beast around. This is most likely due to the lack of riding.

Anyhow....Is my gear working the way it should be? Temp, was -10C, with the windchill making it feel like -20

I arrived to work cool.
My toes were frozen,
My legs were warm and comfy.
My forehead was a bit cool, otherwise the head was fine.
My torso was warm and dry, HOWEVER my merino wool shirts were soaked in sweat.
The showers pass jacket was damp on the inside.
Im just wondering is how the merino wool and the jacket are supposed to work? I had the pit vents open as well on the jacket.


I did a quick towel dry (not really needed though) and I was good to go. My hair wasn't really sweaty either.

My clothing was:

2 long johns(sp?)
1 cycling winter tights
2 long sleeve merino wool shirts(one thick one thin)
2 balaclava's (pretty thin)
Showerspass Elite 2.0 jacket as a windbreaker
goggles, helmet and 2 finger mittens.
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Old 01-05-10, 09:54 AM   #2
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You shouldn't sweat that much. Maybe lose one of the wool shirts and one of the longjohns? It is really hard to judge how many layers will be needed, but getting soaked is a bad idea.

And obviously, ideally your toes wouldn't be freezing. Bigger shoes with more insulation might help -- the trick is to insulate without cutting off circulation.

But I have to admit, I don't usually ride in such cold weather. I'm not opposed to it, you understand, we just don't get that much of it here in NJ.
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Old 01-05-10, 10:04 AM   #3
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You shouldn't sweat that much. Maybe lose one of the wool shirts and one of the longjohns? It is really hard to judge how many layers will be needed, but getting soaked is a bad idea.

And obviously, ideally your toes wouldn't be freezing. Bigger shoes with more insulation might help -- the trick is to insulate without cutting off circulation.

But I have to admit, I don't usually ride in such cold weather. I'm not opposed to it, you understand, we just don't get that much of it here in NJ.

Hmm....well im happy the longjohns....my legs were nice and warm...im just wondering about the shirts. I just feel one single shirt would be to cold. Dunno. Maybe I need two thing shirts instead of one thin and one thick. I guess I have to play with the adjusting.

I should I add, I commuted for about 8km. (6miles?)
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Old 01-05-10, 10:11 AM   #4
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I agree with losing one or the other of the shirts, and one of the longjohns (assuming they're full-body).

Doing something about your foot insulation and wind protection is pretty important. Your extremities are the first things to potentially suffer from frostbite. What were you wearing on your feet?

Edit: Adding some kind of windproof shell will likely do a lot to improve your sense of warmth on your torso if you go with less actual insulating clothing.
Edit edit: Actually, the Showers Pass jacket probably qualifies as windproof. Cutting down on torso insulation is probably a good idea.

Last edited by Arcanum; 01-05-10 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 01-05-10, 10:23 AM   #5
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Good for you! I always like to see winter commuters. Winter riding is slow and hard. Air is more dense, and when it gets really cold, your grease can solidify, making you even slower. Synthetic grease will give you a fighting chance of staying liquid. Tires, especially the studded ones, also contribute to slowing you down. You'll sure be fast in spring, though.

I would suggest adding another fleece or wool sweater, and losing the windbreaker (moisture trapper) altogether. If your average speed was 12 km/h, the windbreaker is probably doing you more harm than good. If I had enough time, one sewing project I've had in mind for a while would be to add windproofing patches from an old coat to an old fleece shirt, only in the areas that need them (upper arms, chest and stomach for me), leaving the rest breathable. You could probably ditch the goggles too, but I'd suggest adding a half-mask or balaclava style that covers your cheeks.

For feet, say yes to loose shoes; you need air in there to stay warm. If you're riding with clipless, try some insulating insoles ("toasty feet" at Wal-mart might be thin enough?; I bought the thermal insoles Mark'sWork Wearhouse sells, but they made my shoes too tight. If my shoes had been one size too big they probably would have worked. I wore them with my husband's shoes (2 sizes too big), and they were great); the metal plate steals a lot of heat. I also find plastic bags over my socks cut the wind and keep my feet warm. There are also chemical packets and battery powered socks you can try (Canadian Tire, Mark's) if insulation alone isn't working for you.

Last edited by hshearer; 01-05-10 at 10:26 AM.
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Old 01-05-10, 10:42 AM   #6
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For feet, say yes to loose shoes; you need air in there to stay warm. If you're riding with clipless, try some insulating insoles ("toasty feet" at Wal-mart might be thin enough?; I bought the thermal insoles Mark'sWork Wearhouse sells, but they made my shoes too tight. If my shoes had been one size too big they probably would have worked. I wore them with my husband's shoes (2 sizes too big), and they were great); the metal plate steals a lot of heat. I also find plastic bags over my socks cut the wind and keep my feet warm. There are also chemical packets and battery powered socks you can try (Canadian Tire, Mark's) if insulation alone isn't working for you.
Depending on his pedal configuration, how often he plans to ride in these conditions, how attached he is to clipless, and how much money he's willing to spend, a set of waterproof winter hiking boots might serve him. You can get a set good down to -32C for $100 or less. I can say from experience that they work well and remain comfortable at indoor temperatures.
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Old 01-05-10, 10:50 AM   #7
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If you were sweating that much, you were wearing too much clothing. I know I am dressed right when I am right on the edge of being cold and get to work nearly sweat-free. It is better to be a little chilly than overdressed because that makes you sweat, which makes you colder.

What were you wearing on your feet? Wool socks make a huge difference as well as shoe covers. My feet are warm riding in the teens with one pair of DeFeet Wooly Boolies and Pearl Izumi Caliantoes (toe covers).
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Old 01-05-10, 10:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macteacher View Post
Hmm....well im happy the longjohns....my legs were nice and warm...im just wondering about the shirts. I just feel one single shirt would be to cold. Dunno. Maybe I need two thing shirts instead of one thin and one thick. I guess I have to play with the adjusting.

I should I add, I commuted for about 8km. (6miles?)
Hey, whatever we suggest, you're going to have to figure it out for yourself. I too ride about 6 miles, but in New Jersey. My problem is that I sit on an overheated train for an hour, then go out into the freezing cold and get on my bike. That initial blast of cold air is brutal! But that chill lasts only a minute or so. But within a mile or so that feeling has gone away, and another mile later I'm unzipping.

Anyway, my thinking is: if you're sweating anywhere, it's because your body is trying to lose heat. Your body will do this better with one less longjohns. I don't believe your legs will be cold at all, and certainly not for long enough to worry about it. As for shirts and windbreaker, hshearer makes a good point about trapping moisture, but I still think a better solution is to sweat less. I wouldn't want to ride without a windbreaker, mainly because my current windbreaker is extremely visible and reflective. Go with the more reflective option!

I've recently switched from a pullover style fleece to a zip front fleece, and am happy with the result. As I get hot, I unzip more.
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Old 01-05-10, 11:24 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by macteacher View Post
Hmm....well im happy the longjohns....my legs were nice and warm...im just wondering about the shirts. I just feel one single shirt would be to cold. Dunno. Maybe I need two thing shirts instead of one thin and one thick. I guess I have to play with the adjusting.

I should I add, I commuted for about 8km. (6miles?)
It's OK to go out and get a little cold at first... you will warm up with the exertion.
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Old 01-05-10, 12:24 PM   #10
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I have the same results if I wear my Columbia rain shell rather than my Running Room running shell. The running shell doesn't pretend to be waterproof or windproof, - merely water resistant and wind resistant which I find to be good enough for winter. Rain isn't usually a problem.

It also has pit zips but I typically leave then closed in the winter. Today it was -9 F and I was comfortable with my Sugoi base layer and Old Nave fleece pullover. I was also wearing my Amfib bibs which cover part of my torso as well.

I don't think I sweat anymore with the rain shell, just that it doesn't vent as well. I wonder if you're having the same problem your jacket.

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Old 01-05-10, 01:23 PM   #11
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Hi folks..I forgot to add.

On my feet I was wearing a thin summer half sock and on top of that a VERY thick wool sock. I was wearing an exeter winter cycling boots wrapped in a water proof shoe cover. I do have a medium wool sock but I couldn't find it, so I wore the very thick ones. My feet were very tight and I had no room to move because of the thickness of the sock.

I do have clipless pedals on my summer bike, but this winter beater just has regular pedals and I do not intend to add any clips to it. Im not sure if I was doing 12km/hr, but that sounds about right. I certainly was not going my fastest as the bike was sluggish and slow. A small hill for example that I always clear had me stopped dead in my tracks halfway up it. Im the snow did not help.

Im not fond of riding without a windbreaker, BUT I will change my clothing for the ride home and see if that changes anything.

Maybe the showerspass is to windresistent? Is it a bad choice to wear?

I thought since the inside of the jacket was damp, that my sweat was being 'wicked' away from my body to the outer shell.


Thanks for all the suggestions.
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Old 01-05-10, 04:22 PM   #12
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I agree with losing one or the other of the shirts, and one of the longjohns (assuming they're full-body).
Edit: Adding some kind of windproof shell will likely do a lot to improve your sense of warmth on your torso if you go with less actual insulating clothing.
Edit edit: Actually, the Showers Pass jacket probably qualifies as windproof. Cutting down on torso insulation is probably a good idea.
Well...that was a bad move. I did exactly what you said and removed one of the shirts. I ended up still wet but also cold.

With two wool shirts on, I found I was wet but warm... with the one shirt on for the return home I was wet and cold. Everytime my jacket would touch my torso and make contact with the wet shirt, I would get very cold.

Now...im home, I took a warm shower, had some warm tea and soup...but I still feel cold. My chest is freezing and im not to sure what to do about it. Im never wearing a single layer of clothing again in these temps.
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Old 01-05-10, 04:29 PM   #13
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Well...that was a bad move. I did exactly what you said and removed one of the shirts. I ended up still wet but also cold.

With two wool shirts on, I found I was wet but warm... with the one shirt on for the return home I was wet and cold. Everytime my jacket would touch my torso and make contact with the wet shirt, I would get very cold.

Now...im home, I took a warm shower, had some warm tea and soup...but I still feel cold. My chest is freezing and im not to sure what to do about it. Im never wearing a single layer of clothing again in these temps.
I was under the impression that the Showers Pass breathed pretty well for a rain jacket but maybe not well enough. You want some sort of shell so I wouldn't skip that layer, but you might need something different.
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Old 01-05-10, 05:22 PM   #14
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I don't see the harm in sweating into wool. It won't make you cold. If you're too hot, it's a problem, but you weren't, were you?

If your feet were cold, you have more research to do. It could get worse than just cold. It could get painful, and you could even get frostbite.

Where in Ontario are you?
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Old 01-05-10, 07:31 PM   #15
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Hey macteacher,

I live in Wisconsin and had the same problem today. Temps were 8 Deg F (-13 C) in the morning and 20 Deg F (-7 C) coming home. I wore a smartwool longsleeve top, then mid weight fleece and J&G YelowJacket windbreaker with pit zips open. The ride in was good, but the ride home I got chilled quickly. I think my problem was that the Smartwool shirt was in a locker and did not get a chance to totally dry. I did not notice it when I put it on, but I am figuring it was damp.

I also have a Showers Pass Elite 2.0, but based on a lot of working with it last year, noticed that the vapor transmission of this jacket really suffered at temps below about 20 Deg F (-7C). For that reason I bought the J&G Yellowjacket.

I was also chilled when I got home tonight and experienced the same feeling as you did when your layers contacted the inside of your jacket. For tomorrow, I will air dry my wool shirt during the day at work and should be good to go.

Good luck to you!
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Old 01-05-10, 07:42 PM   #16
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FYI - here is the post last January on the issues I had with SP Elite and cold weather condensation...

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...tion&highlight=
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Old 01-05-10, 07:48 PM   #17
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Hi all,

I will use my MEC cycling windbreaker shell (water resistent) jacket for my next ride and I will ride with two wool layers. Being wet/damp and warm is okay rather than being wet/damp and cold.

Kccommuter, my clothes were dry, I just needed to wear both layers (at least I think that was the problem)


Noglider, my feet were only cold on the morning ride to work, on the return they were okay. Nothing that was uncomfortable.

Its my torso that was the problem on the return ride in. I guess I just need to experiment more.
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Old 01-05-10, 09:14 PM   #18
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macteacher,

I think this is fairly common with those membranes, i'm not sure why because the lower humidity outside and the higher humidity inside should drive the moisture out. I have friends who go up north and have issues with goretex freezing because the moisture gets frozen inside the membrane i guess... at -27C you end up with a jacket which has a layer of frost on the back and is stiff as a board... not a good situation. I was looking at mec's whoosh and shower's pass elite... and the largest difference is the whoosh has GIANT pitzips... from your elbow to your mid stomach, which may be a better solutionn for moisture removal if the jacket is frozen.

IF you have cold feet, try removing a layer... making sure you have lots of space, socks aren't too tight(happens if you have too many layers) aren't wearing hard-toe shoes, and most importantly have protected the pulse point on your ankle from the elements with a longer ski-type sock or even an ankle warmer.

I rode that same day for an hour... i only wore a some windproof fleece pants, windproof briefs a thin t-shirt of polypropelyene and a mid-weight merino long sleeve under a windstopper jacket.

Some moisture in your mid-layer is normal, too much is dangerous especially if you feel wet(not just mildly clammy) while riding.. you will get cold very quickly if you have to stop for a repair.

More here on the freezing/soaking jackets
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...1#post10231754

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Old 01-05-10, 09:52 PM   #19
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The condensation thing is interesting, and explains why you thought you were so sweaty while not feeling hot.
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Old 01-05-10, 10:43 PM   #20
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I usually start out a little cool, but warm up quickly enough. With your feet it sounds like everything together was to tight. I think if you removed one of the socks it would be better (probably keep the wool). It sounds like everything did it's job as you weren't cold when you arrived (except for your feet).

I am wearing a Columbia softshell as my shell now. I think my usual Adidas windbreaker was keeping the moisture from evaporating effectively and making my Hoodie a little wet.
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Old 01-06-10, 08:52 AM   #21
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One other tip for the feet is to hold off on putting on your heavy socks and shoes until just before leaving--that way your feet won't start sweating while you're putzing around the house getting ready to go (a problem I sometimes have).
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Old 01-06-10, 09:25 AM   #22
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On the other hand, putting on your gear BEFORE it's time to leave can build up heat so you're not shocked with the cold when you go out.

It depends on what you need.
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Old 01-06-10, 10:14 AM   #23
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This is just slightly off topic. Due to unimportant reasons, my usual shell wasn't available one day last week so I grabbed my cheap rain shell to use instead. It's got some venting on the back but not a ton and it doesn't portend to be made of a breathable material. It was of course dripping wet on the inside by the time I got to work. My base layer had done its job and I didn't feel damp. The outside of my fleece pullover was wet too. I also hadn't felt overly warm or hot while riding.

Nothing of this is noteworthy but what it brings home to me is how much water I'm losing when I don't even realize that I'm sweating. My jacket was dripping on the inside and that was just the sweat from my torso. It didn't include the sweat from my head or legs, or the water vapor that I exhale. It's a good reminder that I need to drink a lot of water to replace all that.

When I'm dripping with sweat in the summer, imagine how much more of it goes unnoticed since it just evaporates.
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Old 01-06-10, 10:40 AM   #24
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I tend to sweat easily and I commute in siminar conitions (0F today). I cannot wear a wind proof or water proof shell in any temperatute. You need a wind resistant front and a well vented, wicking rear. I wear a Craft wind front longjohn on my lower half under blue jeans. On the top it is just a polyester button dress shirt, with a fairly thick polyester jacket, that has a nylon front (old Cannondale jacket). When I get to work my back will be frosty where the moisture is wicking and evaporatating. A craft wind front top would serve the same purpose if I did not have the jacket.

My big issue is my hands. I wear waterproof mittens, with thick wool liners and a poly glove. My hands sweat a lot, but I can't figure out how to put enough inslation on them and still allow wicking. Biking lobster mitts are just not warm enough and too small to layer.
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Old 01-06-10, 11:17 AM   #25
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If you were wearing heavy wool socks and your feet were still cold, then it's also possible that your shoes were fitting too tightly. I have worn heavy socks before on cold days, thinking it would make my feet warmer, and it had the opposite effect. If your shoes are too tight, that will cut down blood circulation, making your feet colder. As mentioned, shoe covers also make a big difference in keeping your feet warm.
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