I have been meaning to write this blog for a while and today was the perfect day to do it. We have been having some great riding weather in Northeastern Nova Scotia over the past month. No snow, perfectly dry and clear roads; heaven really. But today was a little different. It rained hard and blew strong. Nonetheless, it was another great ride home from work. I credit the experience to the cycling “kit” I have put together over the past several …decades. For me it is the perfect assemblage of winter (spring and fall) cycling apparel I could ask for. It keeps me warm and dry, without any restrictions in movement. It is light, portable and simply perfect. I’ll start with a jacket I purchased at Winners (yes Winners,) about three years ago. I am a thrifty, practical shopper always looking for something great for less. I happened upon this jacket one evening and couldn’t believe my find. It is a Mountain Hardwear and it has been absolutely ideal. It is a little big for me, but that means extra comfort and capacity while riding. With taped seams, large utilitarian pockets, drawstring hood, underarm zippers and superior water proofing, I couldn’t ask for more. The best part: I found it for $100 CDN (Reg. $350). If you are in the market for a new jacket, I can, without reservation, recommend this brand.
I belong to the group of men who washes their hair with a face cloth. So keeping the heat in during cold winter rides is paramount. Up until several year ago I wore a very stretchy, thin, kids, purple polyester hat of a thing under my helmet. It was thin enough and just warm enough to pass as a winter cycling cap. Then I discovered Red Dots Cycling Caps. I ordered a Presta 100% wool winter cycling cap. I LOVE this hat, I mean cap! It is stylish, warm, easy to care for and has the best retractable ear protection. At $52 (USD) I now consider it a bargain. I would recommend contacting Red Dots directly when ordering to discuss size. It was suggested I order a S/M despite measuring as a M/L. The S/M is the right size. I since ordered a summer cap in M/L based on my original order form (before speaking to the sales person) and it is too big.
My kit was lacking leg protection since forever. I absolutely hate (strong word, I know) wearing rain pants. So when I found RainLegs it was like the heavens had granted me a wish. These light weight nylon “chaps” are super easy to put on and take off. They don’t restrict movement in any direction and cover just the front/tops of your legs, where the rain and snow lands. You can’t over heat or sweat in them. Although the material is waterproof, on occasion I get a little wet depending on the angle of the precipitation or the speed at which I put them on (sometimes leaving a spot not covered). For riding pleasure I would give them a 8.5/10 in their current design. By comparison I would rate rain pants as a 0/10 for riding pleasure (…hate them).
|Mountain Hardwear||Red Dots Cycling Cap: Presta||Rainlegs|
Combining RainLegs with gaitors was my next great discovery. Gaitors tuck up nicely underneath the knee flap on my RainLegs and give unparalleled articulation at the knees. I use a pair of MEC gaitors like these that I purchased for hiking some time ago. I really like the construction and quality of materials. The rubber boot strap and stainless buckle are well thought out construction details for this climate. Deep puddles, slush, curb dirt and the great salt lakes of Westville cannot breach these fortresses.
For pants I wear jeans. I ride in what I work in.
Then there is my most favourite foot wear (even if you’re not supposed to have favourites. Oh, that’s your children): Blundstones! I have been wearing these boots year round for two decades now and will likely never buy another brand of boot. I wear them everywhere, for everything. They never let me down. On the bicycle my foot feels safe, protected from injury and the elements. My feet never get cold, hot or uncomfortable. They are true to size always. Once you choose a size you don’t ever need to try them on again. Buying boots now takes me about 60 seconds. “Can I have a 560 or a 500 series in ten and a half please; …Debit;… no bag, thank you;…see you next time”. Done. Some also come with a built in temperature gauge. Whenever the temperature falls below-12C, my soles will click on the floor for the first five minutes after entering a building. Cool, eh!
Finally, my gloves. I don’t remember where, when or why I bought these gloves. But I can’t imagine being without them. Discovering I no longer have them with me when out and about puts me into an immediate state of panic about where I might have left them. Everything stops and rewinds until I recover them. I am not sure if Activa is the brand or model but that is all I have to go on. They have been with me for a while and continue to impress me. No less than seven materials are listed on the tag with synthetic leather coming in at 55%. Made in China, these gloves have kept my hands warm on all but the coldest of day and even when wet! The fit is perfect and the feel is uncompromised. Sadly they are near the end of their life. But I think I have found the Holy Grail of Cycling Gloves through another blog.
Oh and Finally (the sequel) is my wool sweater. Everything about wool is amazing. It is warm, flexible, wears well and doesn’t trap odours. I found this one at Frenchy’s (second hand clothing chain). It cost about $7 CDN. and came with a few holes (included in the price). I never leave home without it. I have grown a little, it has shrunk a little, but we are unstoppable together. Go find yerself a wool sweater!
|Gaiters and Blundstones||"Activa"? Gloves||My Cosy wool sweater - Kiah!|
So after many years of cycling and sparing you from many unwritten reviews of less than great apparel, I give you the all-stars. I wish you to know that I make no claims about these being the right items for you. I am sure they would rank highly in any objective evaluation nonetheless. The point I am trying to make is that they are perfect for me. So the message to you is to keep your eyes, ears and wallets open for the gear that is perfect for you.
Oh and #mykithasnospandex
Take care, Daryl