Arctic urban cowboys


Clear skies and a full week of zeros from the weatherman changes the game. Soaking down jackets from inside-out, sweating inside shoes, and icing neckwarmers in layer after layer of iced breaths are hazards of cold-weather activity. Some lessons from the first week: breathability counts, and down becomes useless without a vapor barrier beneath, and hands and feet can never have too much help when riding a bike in the cold. Gaiters are great, and help keep dusty snow-spray from the front wheel out of my shoes and off my shins. They make me look like a horseman, like Viggo Mortenson in Appaloosa, on a Pugsley; Lael wears a snowboarding helmet and looks like a Power Ranger. In sum, an arctic metal-cowboy and a cycling Power Ranger.



Plastic-bodied pedals and balaclavas would help the feet and face from freezing when the bank sign says -13F. Other measures may be taken, but measures tend to cost money, unless I can get my hands on a sewing machine. Thinking about stitching up some insulated pogies.

Note: Gary Blakley, of the seasonally frigid Del Norte, CO suggests these $13 pogies from Amazon, designed for ATV operators.  Local producers include Dogwood Designs, availaible online from Revelate Designs as well as local Alaska bike shops and outdoor stores including REI; Apocalypse Design of Fairbanks manufactures a line of Arctic gear and Bike Toasties, their version of the pogie.

4 thoughts on “Arctic urban cowboys

  1. Hi Nick, I use these pogies-

    For 13.00 there’s no reason to make your own. Only works on flat bars though. I stuff a plastic grocery bag in the area of the bar and cables to limit air flow and use a big squeeze type paper clip to adjust the arm opening as small as is practical. Pogies make a huge difference. Our weather is moderate compared to yours, our lows are usually in the single digits with an occasional below zero day but we get good sun and that helps too.

    Sierra Trading Post usually has good deals on balaclavas.

    • Gary, Incidentally, I found a pair of used Madden (Boulder, CO) pogies in Silver City while organizing a box of clothing and bike bags at BikeWorks. They are a basic nylon shell and do well to cut the wind, but are a little flimsy when reinserting my hand. The price was right.

      Thirteen bucks is also the right price. It seems these are insulated? What a steal.

      My thought was to poach materials from a synthetic sleeping bag (free), and make a three panel design, but a two panel like the $13 pair would be easier. With the equipment and materials already at hand, ig would be easy. It just so happens that Amazon and a debit card are closer at hand. Thanks.

      Interestingly, many shops carry Dogwood Design Pogies (Fairbanks) and Revelate bags (Anch.), pre-fit to Pugs, Mukluks, Fatbacks, 907, etc. Nice to see small companies leading the way; feels a little like the early eighties, which you may know something about.

      • Mine are about 4 years old so they may be slightly different than these but they are insulated. They appear to be around 1/4″ thick with heavy fabric on the exterior. They stay put pretty well but I had an issue with them working down my arm slightly when riding over rough terrain so this year I added a large head screw through each pogie into the plastic handlebar plug. Now they don’t move at all and it made entering them easier too. They’ll work with short bar ends, but not great, as the bar end gets in the way some. It appears you aren’t using them though. They’ll work fine with Lael’s Mary bars too.

        I’d prefer to support the cottage industry folks for this sort of thing but if I had to pay their price I just would go without for this item.

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