I have heard many complaints, these past few weeks, about the cold temperatures in Sydney. We are in winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Bicycling around the city, I often see people sitting in warm patches of sunlight while wearing sunglasses – a lovely phenomenon.
I regard these complaints with amusement. Why? My view of winter is extreme because of my childhood in in Minnesota. For about six months of the year, it was winter. This was before the term “polar/arctic vortex” came into fashion. It was below freezing for endless weeks with the wind chill making it even colder. Have you felt -15C? It’s colder than your freezer. Ever experienced -30C? This is when you must cover every inch of your skin or it will freeze in a matter of minutes.
My native-born Australian children and husband are excited by the prospect of snow. I could care less. Why? Because I shovelled mountains of it when I was a kid. The worst part was when the garbage trucks would clear the streets with a giant shovel attached to the front. The truck would usually knock down the mailbox and dump a giant load of hard, compacted snow at the bottom of the drive. Time to shovel again.
White fluffy snow falling is indeed magical. Making snow forts/tunnels/snow men is super fun. Snowflakes are beautiful. Yellow or brown snow, a telltale sign of doggie visitors, not so nice. Shovelling said coloured snow? Ugh. Walking in the snow in heels or anything other than a snowboot is treacherous. Studded bicycle tires are apparently de rigueur in winter.
Driving in winter in Minnesota often requires the inclusion of a survival kit in the car. Why? If you should have an accident or slide off the road into several feet of fluffy snow, the emergency rescue vehicles could be awhile. Too much snow and ice makes it difficult to be rescued. And the boot might have frozen shut. The recommended survival kit includes non-perishable food, blankets, rubbish bags, torch, candles or Sterno (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sterno), matches, first aid kit, coffee container for melting snow for drinking water, ice scraper – know what that is Sydneysiders?.
The safest place to be if you should go off the road in a snowstorm? The car. How to stay warm? Those rubbish bags and blankets that you packed in your kit. Huddling next to your passenger(s). Hopefully not your estranged spouse. How long could it be before someone rescues you? Awhile. Drink the snow that you’ve melted in the coffee can which is the container for your survival kit. Watch out for the yellow snow. Eat a little. Try staying warm in your car with a blanket in -30C. Fun? No.
One April as a teenager, when the last few snowstorms had dumped load after load of snow on the budding tulips, I wished to live somewhere without snow. Indeed, I am fortunate to call Sydney home. Now, the ultimate challenge is staying warm in a Sydney house without central heating or insulation. We are fortunate to have reverse cycle air conditioning and live in a duplex where the bedrooms are on the second level. Consequently, I find bicycling in the Sydney cold easy to manage. How? Layers!
These are the steps that I take to dress for bicycling to work on a cold day:
First: Spanx/foundation wear/slip.
Second: I choose a long-sleeved dress if it’s around 15C. If it’s cooler than 15C, a wool long-sleeved dress.
Third: Wool/cashmere/silk scarf around the neck. If it’s really cold, I’ll choose a longer wool scarf to loop around my neck and cover my chest. (Refer to The Value of a Winter Coat and Scarf. https://wordpress.com/post/83714600/1492/)
Fourth: Coat. A heavier weight coat is generally warmer. I stay away from puffer coats on the bicycle. They don’t breathe and are unflattering. Also, I tend to avoid very long coats. Anything below the calf is too long for me and my bicycle. The red J.Crew coat that I wear on the coldest days has a layer of Thinsulate (good for 15C and below). The purple Zara coat is lightly insulated and lined while the pink LK Bennet I’ll wear with a heavier wool dress (15C to 20C). A lighter red Zara coat is great for 20C and above.
Tall boots with a heel, of course.
Gloves are a must!
My Yakkay helmet keeps me warm.
Sunglasses. We are often rewarded with the sun at lunchtime but also good for eye protection while bicycling.
Please let me know if you have any questions. I don’t wear trousers during the week because it takes too much time to coordinate. This is a subject which is worth its own blog post. All of this takes effort, I agree. But definitely worth it to be able to bicycle comfortably. Otherwise, what’s the alternative? Getting coughed and sneezed on on the train/bus? Good luck! Car? Ba ha ha ha ha!
Today’s ensemble: Zara dress, cashmere scarf, BBB gloves, J.Crew earrings and infinity scarf, LK Bennet coat, Aerosoles boots, Witchery sunglasses, Yakkay helmet, Cartier Santos, Po Campo Loop Pannier Bag, Gazelle CityZen S9 c/o Omafiets.