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The High Cost of Winter Cycling – AND the priceless Health Value of Cycling Weight Loss and Fitness
I did it! I reached the 2,500 km of cycling mark this past week. I have cycled this winter through some of the foulest rain storms ever, but hey, in Vancouver if you don’t do it in the rain, then you just don’t do it.
But becoming a winter cyclist was quite a learning process. It went something like this.
- Get caught in bad weather without proper gear
- Arrive home wet to the skin and freezing, with numb hands
- Start the expensive process of buying proper winter cycling gear
First I hit a sale and bought two pairs of gloves – one Louis Garneau pair and one Axiom pair. I soon discovered that no matter how much they cost, and what they say on the packaging, there is no such thing as completely waterproof cycling gloves.
Joe has a pair of $60 Axiom gloves, guaranteed “waterproof”, that he was WRINGING out a couple of nights ago, after cycling through a Vancouver downfall. Enough water came out to fill the dog’s water bowl. In fact, every night we dry out our “waterproof cycling gloves” in front of the fireplace.
Turned out my cheaper Garneau gloves were the hands-down winner (no pun intended), both for keeping my hands warm and reasonably dry. For only $10.00! Score! Still, they are NOT 100% waterproof.
My regular MEC cycling pants are pretty waterproof, but not enough for a Vancouver winter rain storm. So it was off to Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) for rain pants, long underwear, a Merino wool jersey and a warm cycling hoodie. Hit a sale but still, Ka-ching!
$250.00! (so I could save money by cycling)
The hoodie was nice and warm, but it turned out it actually absorbed the rain and kept it close (and cold) to my head. So I needed to buy a helmet wrapper with a small visor and neck guard.
$40.00 more …
Hmmm … then I discovered it was a bit of a tactical error to have only one pair of long johns. It was pretty tedious to do laundry every night. Then my Land’s End catalog arrived, tempting me with silk long johns and silk glove liners …
$50.00 more …
Silk is the BEST for insulation. The long johns don’t look so good after a few washings, but they still work. The glove liners were amazing; they made it easy to remove and put back on my wet gloves. Not so good is that silk is so light that I lost one glove liner in the first month. I will buy these again, but next time I’ll get them in white, because in black they’re incredibly easy to lose. They seem to kind of float away and then blend into the bleak Vancouver winter.
Luckily I already had my trusty waterproof Blundstone boots, and Joe advised me to put plastic shopping bags over my socks for added protection (we have yet to find waterproof socks). By January my poor Blundstones kind of disintegrated, and have now been demoted to garden wear. I found an end of season sale at Ronsons and got some Kodiak boots with Thinsulate lining …
$100.00 more …
I can go snowshoeing in my Kodiaks and my feet stay completely dry. But on a bike, even the Kodiaks are not completely waterproof. I believe this has to do with the velocity of the rain as it hits you on a bike. Regular applications of mink oil really help, but I may have to consider boot wrappers next year.
The MEC merino jersey shrunk every time I washed it. After three washings it wouldn’t even fit our 12 year old! Luckily MEC stand behind their products and after a few laughs the manager gave me a store credit. But my second warm jersey cost a little more than the original on-sale Merino jersey …
$30.00 more …
Joe gave me a set of Monkey Lectric lights for my birthday (and a bike to go with them, but that’s another story). Monkey lights are the coolest lights on earth. I have even had motorists stop to tell me how well they can see me.
But still – $90.00 more …
I started the season with a Gortex jacket that I bought on a half-price end of season sale …
$150.00 more …
I’ve since discovered that all Gortex is not created equal, and mine seems better suited to autumn and spring rides. So I’ll be looking to buy a better quality one at the beginning of next winter. (Update – I found one – see my post on my Showers Pass cycling jacket.)
All of that added up to $710.00 in winter cycling gear!
As I added up the high cost of cycling in winter I realized that I would have had more cash in my pocket by riding transit. That’s a little depressing.
But then last week I visited my doctor. She was amazed, and so was I. After years of battling high blood pressure I am now reversing the trend, and it looks pretty certain that I will soon be off my medications. My BP in the doctor’s office was a dazzling 119 over 78! Not only that but my “heart health” index has moved from the caution zone to the green zone, due to the reduced blood pressure and a 20 lb. weight loss.
I’m past 50, but I am going to be reducing my medications at a time when many people are increasing them …
Cost of cycling in winter … $710.00
Health value of cycling … PRICELESS (with apologies to MasterCard)
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