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Freewheel! (a bike blog) | 10 Gifts for Winter Biking

Hey! Marcus Doucette checking in with something new; The Freewheel Blog! As you may or may not know, in addition to hosting a daily show on 88Nine's airwaves, I also bike pretty much daily. Though I'd not call myself a pro (whatever that might mean),  I can say that after a lifetime of riding and a decade plus of riding year-round, that I'm no novice to living on two wheels. So when we thought about adding more blogs to the site and connected that need with the things we are passionate about, biking was an obvious choice for me. So... Freewheel, a blog about biking, gear and the culture of biking in Milwaukee was born. This is my firstie no less, so thank you for reading this.

It being winter in Wisco, and the fact that I've taken my lumps figuring out how to survive 'em and it being the gift-giving season I thought I'd mix up a handy dandy gift guide for those thinking of the crazy people in their lives that push pedal through the dark times and snow drifts. 

10. Wool Base Layers

Surviving the cold Wisconsin winters starts (and sometimes ends) with the most basic principle of winter riding; keeping your core warm. And though there are all kinds of garments fit for base layers, none are better than one of the oldest of all, wool. Yes wool. Once upon a time wool was the worst, as far as itch-factor goes, but these days there are many companies making butter-soft blends perfect for taking the bite out of any breez. The advantage of wearing wool is that it's natural, renewable fabric that wicks sweat, helps retain heat all while being quite breathable. Although cotton works well enough for warmth, it soaks up sweat that can ultimately make you colder. If you're looking for a suggestion about which brand to try, go with  Icebreaker. Icebreaker is a Kiwi company that makes some of the highest grade wool garments that are fairly stylish in a simple way. Plus, you can trace your garment back to the flock it came from!

9. Get Them Gloves

If you've ever tried to ride in cold weather, you already know that not having gloves is a huge difference-maker. Your hands are in constant contact with the elements and your gloves need to be at least as warm as your coat. Without 'em you might decide to skip the ride entirely. While there are more glove types and companies that make them than I'd care to count, my recommendation would be to go with 45NRTH. 45NRTH is a German company that in the tradition of German stuff, is uber good at making the stuff they make. Layer their merino wool liner with the Sturmfist 5 glove and winter will feel easy on the road.    

8. But my hands are still cold... take the next step and make the handlebars wear gloves too. Yes they make them, they're called pogies, and they can be the difference between just surviving a ride with gloves and actually enjoying longer rides in the worst weather. 45NRTH once again is bully on this kind of thing and though their Cobrafist is super-pricey at about $130, but it looks to be the best! Bar Mitts makes one for half the price (but with half the function) that'll totally get the job done.

7. If your gonna wear pants...

...and I totally think their optional, but it's not the worst idea in the world to get a pair of Rev'it waterproof pants. Rev'it technically makes gear for motorcycling, but sometimes I like to think outside the bicycling box for a solution to gear issues. Motorcycling, snowboarding and ski equipment are all great for finding a parallel world of gear that's also great for biking in the winter. Peep these waterproof pants perfect for biking in the snow as an outer shell for regular pants.

6. Yes, you lose heat out of your eyes too... do what all the hip cats are doing (a year later than me I might add! (I'm hip too!!)), and get some ski goggles. Better than some easy-to-fog-up sunglasses, ski goggles are difference-makers in the winter (and they make you look like a Star Wars extra too!)... They can be expensive if you buy them in ski season, but deals can be found at places like TJ Maxx...

5. Protect your neck...

...with a scarf. Crucial stuff, neckwear is important and though there isn't that "one" scarf out there, I'd recommend a scarf that is big enough to afford multiple modes of wrapping and bunching so that you can make it effective in all sorts of cold weather. I use a Palestinian keffiyeh which has so many uses and ways to wrap that it's like the Swiss Army Knife of fabrics. (If you get one, don't settle for the Chinese knock-offs, get a real one here!)

4. Layers 

Layering is super important for riding in the winter. If you do ride you'll find that every day can mean layering up in a different way. Milwaukee tool has a jacket that can help keep you warm without adding bulk. Their M12 heated jacket is built for people who need to work, and since you're getting there by bike, it would work for you too.


3. Studded

As far as actually riding when the snow starts to fall studded tires can come in handy. You can either make them yourself or buy them complete...

2. The right tool for the job...

...for winter riding is a proper fat bike. They're everywhere these days and if I had my druthers I'd get one of the best; a Schlick Fat Bike. They're a Milwaukee bike builder based in Riverwest making some of the best fat bikes on the market. Their shop literally just opened for business and if you've the means to get one, I'd go for the APE, which they describe as "agressive, trail, dirt jump,  urban assault anywhere frame." Yep...

1. But if you're really heady...

You'll support the station you listen to with a smart lil' donation and get yourself one of these beauties. You lose the most heat out of your head and it still fits even if you're wearing a helmet already. Paolo Nutini and his band got one when they came in and you can get one while making a donation.



Director of Digital Content | Radio Milwaukee