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Sat, 31 May 2008

Another reason cycling through winter is hard for non cyclists - 18:14
On Thursday when I arrived at work I happened to give some thought to the clothing I had been wearing to go out cycling that morning with the temperature around 2 degrees Celsius and stay comfortable. People living in Sydney do not have it so hard as people living in Canberra, however Sydney has other problems, such as horrendous traffic and not much cycling friendly infrastructure.

On Thursday morning I was wearing the following items (with original purchase costs) CORC cycling socks ($10) and Ground Effect wind proof fleece socks ($25), Ground Effect tights with wind proof fleece from knees down ($99), knicks (a cheap pair I got at the Mont sale for $49), a poly propylene thermal (Kathmandu sale item for $19), Short Sleeve cycle jersey (Alpine Classic jersey, $70), arm warmers ($20 back in 2002), long sleeve fleecy lined winter top (A Netti top I bought in 2002 for $90 (or so)), Mont wind proof cycle vest (one of my favourite pieces of kit, $80 at the sale), Ground Effect fleece beanie with wind proof material over the ears ($19), helmet (not counting this in the price as all cyclists in Australia wear one in theory and you do not need one as expensive as mine), Ground Effect winter gloves ($39) over poly propylene glove liners ($8 at Kathmandu).

As it gets colder (down to -7 some mornings) I will also have neoprene booties ($80) over my cycling shoes, an extra poly pro thermal, and a full length sleeve Mont (or similar) wind proof jacket ($130) oh and often fleece gloves under the wind proof gloves. However if we simply add up the costs of what I was wearing this Thursday morning it comes to a rather staggering AUD $528. Considering I was riding in the dark that ignores the cost of lighting and also ignores how much I spend on bikes. Sure you can ride slowly not working up much of a sweat or exposing yourself to the wind as much in cheaper gear and be comfortable enough. However to actively enjoy cycling in cold temperatures and be able to do it a lot it helps having all the warm comfortable gear that protects you from the elements.

Of course clothing gets smelly quickly when you sweat in it a lot so I have more than one item of most of that gear to enable me to get out most days a week even in winter and stay active. Fortunately lots of it lasts a long time, however the cost of getting into cycling in winter is somewhat prohibitive when you first start doing it (such as the Bilbys novice program participants who keep going through the following winter).

I guess to counter balance this you can look at how much many people spend on petrol, when you consider I filled my car up with a tank of petrol for AUD $60 last week, it was the first time I had filled my cars petrol tank since March (I filled it in Sydney to get back to Canberra following the kayak race I did up there). I can comfortably get around by bike all through Canberra in winter, get my groceries often by bike, do other things by bike and can avoid using my car a lot.

However the point I guess I am getting at in the title is, most non Cyclists think $500 is about as much as they could conceivably justify spending on a bicycle. If they then find out to cycle through winter they may need to spend almost as much on clothing it is quite likely to put them off.

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