Friday December 6th saw temperatures plummet across the state of Wisconsin for the first time this winter.In Sheboygan, with the wind chill, the temperature was around 10 degrees. The wind was ferocious and nipped at your skin leaving everyone with rosy cheeks. Since I had errands to run, and without a car to do them in I opted for my mountain bike. At one stop a lady asked me,”How can you ride a bike in this weather?” “It’s my only choice” I stated. “I am one of the 12 percent of the population that does not own a car”.
I suppose by some people’s standards I was a little crazy for being out in this weather, but I was prepared for it by wearing winter gear. My thought is this: If you don’t like the winter weather we have here in Wisconsin, then you should consider moving somewhere else that’s warm.. If you do like the Wisconsin weather, or “you don’t mind it”, then either you are going to stay indoors all winter and venture out only when you have to, or you will get out daily and enjoy the brisk winter weather. Either of those will force you to outfit yourself with some basic winter gear.
So what kind of gear do you need? For the occasional trip to the grocery store you will need a hat, boots, gloves, and a warm winter jacket. Not a jacket for fall or spring, but one that is made for temperatures below 30 degrees. That is the basics. From there you can add scarves, big furry hats, wool socks, thermal underwear, and insulated vests. There are many choices available to add to your basics: it all depends on how cold it is outside, and how long you will be out in in the elements, dashing from your car to the interior of a heated building.
A number of years ago while attending college in Waterloo Iowa, the students and faculty found themselves facing -15 degree weather. That day of school I was wearing my insulated Carhart bibs, that looked a lot more for work than school, but the fact was, I was warm and protected. As I was walking up to the main entrance I saw a couple of ladies outside smoking and wearing dresses and summer shoes. Once they spotted me and my “school clothes” they gave me the look of total disapproval. I said the only thing I could think of at the moment,”I gave up fashion for warmth”. I was warm and secure in my bibs and they were cold and shivering from the cold, but they looked great while doing it!
So it is now, that when I know I need to ride my bike around town for food and necessities, I dress for success. I dress warm, wear nylon to break the wind, and underneath my clothes are layered so I can control the heat my body expels while pumping the peddles of my mountain bike. The very worst that can happen is that if I sweat, my clothes become damp and that brings chills. I wear only what I absolutely need to. I know that I live in a state where it is winter 6 months out of the year, and I am not one to hole-up in my house and get cabin fever. Riding a bike in winter is not for everyone, but for me it’s another way to enjoy another season. Sure it’s rough for the first few minutes, but I like to think it’s my heart that keeps me warm, and as long as I can ride a bike I plan on doing it in any season this great state of Wisconsin dishes out.