Overdressed - Wool is Wonderful

It is completely possible to overdress for any ride as I discovered last night. It was cold (15*) and a nice layer of snow on the trails and ice on the road. With the ProCycling night ride at Palmer Park canceled, I was planning on hiding in the garage. Snow I can handle - cold? I can deal with that. To a point. When my water bottle freezes is usually a good sign to stay inside. For some reason, I decided to wait until Nick got home to ride. I figured he join me in the garage and and we'd have a fun spin session.

Wrong! He came in, dropped his work gear and proclaimed "pedaling at 5:30 - get ready!" Huh!? It's like 15 bloody degrees - to start the ride! No amount of whining or delaying could change his mind. We were heading outside and riding. Remembering what I wore the last time, we pulled this kind of stunt, I bundled up. It was a little different this time though and and worked a lot better. I was actually over dressed! My hands were toasty, my feet nice and warm and I was very comfortable. I was also more comfortable on the bike and better able to move. The big difference? Wool - plenty of wool. I started with two pairs of SwiftWick PURSUIT socks - 12s in small and 7s in medium so I could layer a little better. Winter shoes with toe warmers and heavy neoprene booties. Warm toes - for the first night ride this year! Fleece knicker bibs and fleece tights on my legs. Smartwool NTS 250 crew base layer, my new Ibex Giro Montana jersey and the Smartwool PhD SmartLoft jacket Nick got me before we left for Frog Hollow. (Mixing my brands - trying several different styles...)  Over that, my gore jacket for the wind. Wool gloves, hand warmers and winter gloves on my hand. Wool hat and fleece cowl for my neck. And I was afraid I would be cold still...
My waterbottle - still frozen after 20 minutes in the house

Nope. The wool was wonderful. I was warm - toasty even. I could have left off one layer and still been warm. It was a far cry from our last sub freezing ride where I had on my heavy duty winter cycling coat, but was still a little chilly near the end. So I did some research into the wool clothes (which was good since I'm looking at some more wool base layers for a few races next year.) And some of the more interesting tidbits I found out: Wool is hydroscopic - it can both repel water and still wick sweat and moisture away from the body. Even better, it can absorb more water the some synthetic fabrics before it starts feeling damp. The texture of the wool fibers have a natural crimp, which the weavers can further manipulate into folds, waffles and other textures that will trap the warm air the body produces. One of the reasons why two layers of wool was way warmer... Wool is also naturally resistant to odors  - which we discovered on our van trip at the beginning of the month. No stinky shirts after 10 days in the van! And the wool is naturally fire resistant, so no worries about burning holes in my clothes when sitting around a camp fire!

So it's gonna take a while, but Nick and I are slowly going to add a few more wool pieces into our riding and camping outfits. It's expensive, but worth the money for sure. 


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