It looks Indiana weather will again put the "Polar" in Mayor Ballard's Polar Bear Pedal II, coming up on Saturday, January 5. If you rode the inaugural event last January, you know that it was held on one of the worst days of entire winter (for riding), with blowing snow and wind chills in the teens. With over 600 riders registered as I write this, Bicycle Garage Indy is proud to be one of the many sponsors of this growing event. You can add your name to the list, and get details here: http://www.indy.gov/eGov/City/DPW/SustainIndy/Bikeways/Pages/Polar-Pedal.aspx. Here are some tips for this unique bicycling event.
Wear a base layer. Even at the moderate pace of a social ride like the Polar Bear Pedal, you will perspire. Avoid cotton next to your skin, which will chill you quickly once it is damp. A good base layer, like a SmartWool Next-To-Skin ($67.99) or Gore Bike Wear Base Layer ($39.99) will wick moisture away, helping you keep warm.
Cover, don't stuff. Thick hats and heavy socks can prevent helmets and shoes from fitting properly. A poor fit in a helmet reduces its protection. For your feet, thick socks in your cycling shoes can cut-off circulation, making your feet colder! Use a winter helmet liner and helmet cover combination, like the Louis Garneu H-Cover ($19.99) and Pearl Izumi Transfer Balaclava ($26.99). Shoe covers, like Pearl Izumi Barrier WXB Overshoe ($89.99) keep you feet warm, dry and clean.
Waterproof = Windproof. If you don't have a winter cycling jacket, your bicycle rain gear can be combined with a base layer and some insulating layers for a casual winter rider. Technical rain jackets like the Shows Pass Event 2.0 ($239.99) my personal favorite, work great as "four-season" outer wear.
Clean Your Bike, Please. The mix of sand, salt and other ice-melt chemicals you are going to pick-up on a winter ride can play havoc on your alloy components and drive-train. Clean your bike and re-lube as soon as possible after a winter ride.