'Dorky' bootees the key to warm feet while cycling

Published10/27/2008 12:04 AM

Cold weather doesn't need to bring the end of your cycling for the year. New advances in synthetic fabrics and a wide variety of fall/winter cycling clothes have made it easier and easier to keep going year-round.

I'm not an expert on the different materials, but I can tell you what has worked well for me over the past 16 years. In fact, I've ridden relatively comfortably in temperatures down to 14 below.


Layers are indeed the key to cold weather riding, and I wear thermal long underwear as my first layer on the coldest days. The traditional cotton type are fine, but I have a set made of "thermastat polyester" that works great. Called Ventalayer, this fabric is more adept at wicking perspiration away from the body.

On top of the long johns, I wear thin stretch tights that I purchased at my local bicycle shop. The tights are great for temperatures from 30 to 50 by themselves.

I cover my shoes with a pair of stretch bootees from my local bike shop. Feet tend to get the coldest, and while the bootees may look dorky, they really help keep in the warmth.

Don't take my word for it though, next month, Chicago's own Mr. Bike will show area cyclists in person how to stay warm on their bikes. Dave Glowacz, a cycling instructor known to radio listeners throughout the continent as Mr. Bike (www.mrbike.com), presents "Winter Bicycling Tricks and Tips" from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23 at UIC Student Center East, 750 South Halsted St., Illinois Room AB.

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Mr. Bike and his troupe will show how to use your existing clothes for winter and early-spring cycling; give tips for shielding your machine from that notorious winter seasoning, salt; and even demonstrate bike handling with an indoor snowstorm. Plus a free raffle will offer prizes of valuable winter-cycling accessories.

"If nothing else," says Mr. Bike, "come for the underwear modeling."

Dave created the popular paperback "Urban Bikers' Tricks and Tips," and authored "Safe Bicycling in Chicago," the city's official cycling handbook. He also serves as a bicycling instructor with the League of American Bicyclists, the nation's oldest bicycling advocacy organization.

The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation (www.biketraffic.org), the University of Illinois at Chicago's Office of Sustainability (www.uic.edu/sustainability), and Patagonia (www.patagonia.com) sponsor the event. Bike parking is available; for details, call (312) 413-5040 or visit www.bikewinter.org. All ages are welcome.

• Todd Underwood covers cycling in the Chicago area. To contact him, e-mail todd@peppergroup.com or write to c/o Daily Herald, 385 Airport Road, Suite A, Elgin, IL 60123.

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