Lessons from the Winter of 2014 – Screw fashion

Although I’ve been winter cycling since 2004, the winter of 2014 taught me some new lessons. Screw fashion and the discerning cyclist (at least when it’s below -15C)

New Lessons

  • Exposed skin sucks, especially below -15C
  • My general purpose blundstones are not warm enough even with 2 pairs of socks.
  • When it gets cold my body seems to cut off circulation much faster these days, I’m getting older.
  • Need a better winter bike cleaning routine (setup, tools, approach), unless you want to buy a new chain, freewheel and derailleur every winter.
  • Facial hair, if you can grow it, rocks for winter cycling! Don’t shave it off after Movember.
  • Who cares what you look like if you have confidence you’ll arrive home with all your digits. #screwfashion

Winter 2015 to do list:

  • Purchase ski googles, cycling glasses don’t cut the extreme cold
  • Purchase a better balaclava, my current one works great for one or two days, but is irritating to use long term.
  • Purchase warm winter boots, none of this hiking shoes or general purpose boots made in Australia crap. (This also goes for general winter walking, those blundstones made winter school drop-offs painful).

The Ride January 7th

2014-01-07 07.50.50January 7th was possibly the coldest bicycle ride I’ve ever done. The temperature wasn’t too bad at -20C but the 70km/hr wind was crazy, it made it feel like -41C. It was unbelievably cold, especially along King Street downtown Kitchener where the wind just roared between the buildings. I had a number of errands to do, probably cycled 15km in total that day. I felt like I was just trying to get between destinations as quick as possible so my feet could thaw.




Started out without the balaclava (mistake for sure), but facial hair helps a lot, thank you Movember.

2014-01-07 13.14.11




The Water Loop trail that has yet to be paved is not winter maintained, my bike wasn’t going to make these trails.

2014-01-07 15.46.06

Although bicycle parking has been added in our downtown cores, winter maintenance still makes it challenging to lock up.
2014-01-07 16.47.39




8 thoughts on “Lessons from the Winter of 2014 – Screw fashion

  1. Don’t forget to invest in some expensive wool socks meant for cycling or cross country skiing. I’d avoided these for years because of skin sensitivity. This winter I decided better to itch than have frostbike and was pleasantly surprised that they didn’t trigger a rash. Couple with winter cycling shoes I stayed warm, a winter first, even on long rides. Bonus fact: wool truly doesn’t trap odors even with repeated wearings even on your FEET. I haven’t washed them yet and they don’t smell, honest and no lie!

    1. Great suggestions, I’m a total wool fan. I inherited a collection of icebreaker stuff socks, long underwear, t-shirts and sweaters – great quality, love the anti odour qualities but I have yet to purchase the stuff as its a bit pricey .. probably will wait until I need it.

  2. KW surplus sometimes sells nice wool dress socks for really cheap. They work great as a first layer under those big traditional wool socks. I use sorel boots in the winter along with with big bmx pedals and have warm feet that stay put on the pedals.

    I used to have an internal gear hub (with drum brake) in the winter but ended up going to fixed gear this year since the shifter would sometimes freeze. The fixed option also lets me use a stainless steel chain so rust wasn’t really a problem this season. I think I might get a stainless cog next year so I can have a rust-free drivetrain… my chainring is also stainless. I still have to lubricate though and for that I use chainsaw oil since it’s thick and doesn’t seem to get washed off as quickly as lighter oil does.

    I have full fenders and that keep a lot of the slush and saltwater spray off me and the bike and that seems to help with keeping things a bit cleaner… I recommend that option for anyone riding in the winter but it seems that no fenders is pretty popular in KW from what I’ve seen.

    MEC has cheap ski goggles but they are kinda flimsy… never regretted that purchase.

  3. KMC makes the stainless chain but only in 1/8″ it’s model S10, I found it on amazon for 20$ but KMC is carried by most any store. Surly makes stainless chainrings and I’ve seen them on the wall at King Street cycles… I picked mine up from a friend moving to Cali. Surly, Chris King and other companies also make stainless cogs. I use anti-seize when I put together any fixed gear cogs but it’s crucial on winter bikes to use it or at least a thick grease. If you want single speed there’s also a few stainless cassette cogs out there… anti-seize on the spacers and freehub should keep it from rusting. I dunno if I’d use a single cog on an aluminum freehub; thin ones can cut into the hub body and make removal a lot harder.

      1. I’m an avid amateur mechanic I guess.

        Anti-seize is a special kind of thick grease that has metal particles in it to prevent galvanic corrosion between different metals as well pitting and galling. It’s used in heavy industry a lot and I usually just snag it from work but you can pick up little tubes at automotive supply stores. It’s tenacious stuff and hard to wash off the hands so the little tubes are nice for bicycle use. I use it on seatposts, stems, bottom brackets… basically anything I want to unscrew later. Thick grease can work for that too.

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