Winter Weather Tips From a Wash Cyclist - What's a Cyclist to Wear?

December 29, 2015 7:39 AM Comment(s) By Gabriel

"So, what do you do in the Winter?" When I tell someone I work for a laundry delivery service that operates via bicycle, I receive a lot of different responses. One of the most common is the question, "What do you do in the Winter?" We make some unique preparations for our bikes and adjust our riding style accordingly, and of course, we outfit our cyclists with some Winter-ready gear so that they're ready to ride in any situation...
Outfitting a Wash Cyclist for Winter: Believe it or not, I consider us lucky, because our jobs keep us moving and thus a little warmer than the average person. Don't let me fool you, though. We still need to wear appropriate gear for the cold: 1. Jackets, Hats (or Facemasks), Gloves and Socks The most obvious preparations we take involve items the average person wears in cold weather: jackets, hats, gloves and socks. We always strive to wear gear that is not only warm, but also lightweight, wind-breaking and highly visible. A ski mask is especially helpful to keep the wind off your face and keep the heat from escaping out the top of your head (a standard helmet provides very little insulation). New in 2016-17: Bar Mitts, touch screen gloves, and insulated helmets! We added Bar Mitts (short for bar mittens) to our Wash Cycles this Winter and issued touch-screen capable gloves to all of our cyclists. The mitts keep our hands warm while riding (and they look stylish, right?), and the gloves enable us to use our phones to keep in touch with our staff and our customers without subjecting our hands to the cold. We also added insulated helmets for one more layer of protection. Speaking of layers, it's important to... 2. Layer Up! From head to toe, I usually wear at least two layers, sometimes up to five on the coldest days. It usually starts with a t-shirt, leading up to a long-sleeved tee or hooded sweatshirt (or both) underneath my jacket. Wearing layers helps not only with warmth, but also adaptability as the temperature rises and falls throughout the day. You can add or remove layers as needed. Be careful when layering socks and gloves! You don't want to wear anything too tight that will cut off the circulation to your extremities, which is very easy to do. I'll only wear up to two layers of socks or gloves at a time, but since we added Bar Mitts, double gloves aren't really needed. For socks, I'll wear a layer of ankle length and a layer of mid-calf length (and slightly larger size) over top, wool if possible. If this isn't enough, I'll slip a warmer packet into my shoes. And let's not forget the most important layer... 3. Underwear That's a little personal, isn't it? Well, we work in the laundry business, so any discussions about clothing are fair game! This is arguably the most important part of the Winter gear in my opinion. Some cyclists prefer the new-age "Under Armour" style leggings and shirts to wear underneath their normal work pants. I personally prefer the old-school cotton thermal "long john" style undergarments. I've been able to work outside all day wearing these under my usual work clothes. 4. Goggles/Sunglasses I have a set of stylishly aerodynamic safety goggles for really snowy days that allow me to bike without getting pelted in the eyes by windblown flakes. If you've ever experienced that, you know how annoying it is. If you haven't, I don't recommend trying it. On sunny days, sunglasses are even more valuable in Winter than in Summer, as the sun's reflection off the snow-covered cityscape can sometimes be downright blinding! 5. Footwear Like most anything else, footwear is a matter of personal preference. I prefer to wear my insulated waterproof work sneakers instead of trying to weatherproof a pair of cycling shoes. I get much more warmth and stability this way (keep in mind that we also have to walk around with 50-pound bags of laundry on our shoulders in addition to cycling). Boots are very warm, but cumbersome, and are only used in the deepest of snow.
Now that you know how we prepare ourselves for Winter, let us handle one more dirty job for you!


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