TUSB 3.0

What’s up slackers?

I went for a bike ride today. What makes this ride slightly more noteworthy than average was that the average temperature during this ride was somewhere hovering in the mid teens. Yeah yeah, not terribly interesting until you factor in the windchill and then recognize that the temperature I felt was somewhere in the -5 range. Yup, Fahrenheit. Nippy.

This brings me to a very important point that was brought up periodically during the King of Style reign of terror – namely, what happens to style when it’s WICKED FRICKEN’ FREEZING OUTSIDE, guy! Specifically, how does one maintain his or her semblance of looking ridiculously good while also trying to maintain all of one’s extremities and not sacrifice them to the single digits (hahaha. “Single digits.” Get it… like getting frostbite and having to remove your fingers/digits so as to not die? Oh man, I crack myself up sometimes.)

That was a very long introduction to this particular blog post’s subtitle, which reads: TUSB meets King of Style.

My loyal readers will fondly remember the TUSB series from a few years back. Part I featured the highly enviable ice faring and was documented back in my Rochester, NY days. Part II occurred back in New Hampshire exactly one year ago today. TUSB, to the fair weather crowd, means Toughen Up Sissy Boy. Mind you, TUSB was created before the TTFU phrase became popular, so they pretty much stole my thunder before the TUSB thunder even had a chance to growl.

I digress.

–Back to the question at hand: How does one remain stylish while avoiding hypothermia and subsequent death?

–Brief Answer: You don’t.

–Longer Answer: It’s all a balance of style versus function and when the temperatures start to dip to New England-like lows, function always plays it’s trump card.

Let’s revisit my ride today, shall we? It was freakin’ freeeeezing. I woke up to a cloudless blue sky, and the thermometer read four degrees. Do you have aaaany idea what four degrees feels like? Seriously now, do you? (You’re welcome to say yes, but if you don’t know, then don’t even try.) For a bit of relativity, your kitchen freezer is probably four or five times warmer than that. FOUR DEGREES… yeah, chew on that for a bit.

Thankfully yesterday’s hurricane-like winds had subsided, so we merely had 10-15mph gusts to deal with. With relatively dry roads today, I was more than happy knowing that I would eventually tackle the open roads rather than another basement trainer session. Late morning rolled around, and with the sun seemingly almost ready to set (that’s a joke) it was time to kit up. As any tried and true New Englander will attest, I wasn’t joking at all when I said it would take about 45 minutes to bundle up. Moreover, all said and done, I end up wearing seemingly 10lbs more clothes than I will on a normal summer ride. More clothing weight = more of a workout = much MUCH more badass. Obviously.

Fortunately, Castelli kits us out to the nines (whatever the heck that means), so it actually probably only took me about 39 minutes to deck myself out. And when I’m done, I look like something of a gray/black/white ninja… with blue lensed glasses.

...ignore the Crocs

...ignore the Crocs

For style aesthetics, note the full face mask in combination with a lowly worn hat and glasses. Skin exposure: probably less than 1/2 square inch. Style points: high. Function points: extraordinarily high. Winner: Function.

So three hours of riding later, as any New Englander will again attest, my bike was salted more than a sweaty fat dude on Alpe d’Huez in July.

Note the seasonal wreath. Festive.

Note the seasonal wreath. Festive.


You know the worst part about riding in the cold, nasty winter is? It’s arriving home and having to clean off your bike when you’re already pretty darn chilly. Thankfully, sound thought won out the battle of what-to-do when I reminding myself how poorly the bike cleaning had gone the previous day. Instead of cleaning my bici, I hopped into a steamy hot shower.

But before I did that, I stripped down and snapped a photo of what it takes to survive this wintry mess. In truth, it’s surprisingly little again thanks to the folks at Castelli. For me, my core gets up to an adequately survivable temperature relatively quickly – it’s my face, fingers, and toes that are the true worry. Plus the heinously cold pains to those extremities are the ones that will bring you in from an otherwise pleasant ride. Big BIG mittens tackled the fingers. Wool socks, those chemically/ski-style toe warmers, and big ol’ neoprene booties handled the toes. And the aforementioned facemask and hat fielded any potential problems with the moneymaker (…my face).


Now if someone would just be kind enough to please clean my bike…


  1. Carl Hofmann

    Ah, King of Style, do you embrocate as well in such chilly climes?

    • iamtedking

      Personally, I’m not an embrocator. When I was a skier, I would often put a dab of Vaseline-like petroleum based substance on my face to prevent windburn.

      I’ll add that it’s not exactly great for one’s complexion.

  2. Steve Smith aka eqtmgr

    Having lived in both the Midwest and New England in the winter, I can attest to how you feel. The worst was while working at Northeastern as the equipment manager, we played at UNH. Now normally I can tolerate the cold considering the fact that I’m originally from NOLA. But this day in Durham was probably the coldest I’ve ever been in my life.

    It was overcast and rainy. The temp during warm-ups was somewhere in the mid 30s. By kickoff, it was 32 with a wind chill of somewhere in the mid 20s to upper teens. Now if it wasn’t raining and windy, it woulda been ok. But not on this day. By the middle of the first quarter, I was completely drenched head to toe. By halftime, I was shivering and extremely cold. By the end of the game, I was feeling the effects of frostbite.

    Now prior to that, the coldest place I’d ever been was Green Bay. When I lived there in ’03, there was a day in February in which the high for the day was -9 with a wind chill of -23 or so. It was -15 when I woke up that day. But that story is for another time.

    Props to the KOS for making winter wear look just that damn good.

  3. Gavia

    New Englanders are clearly badass.
    ~wussy californian

  4. David

    It is equally functional and just as stylish to wear a normal kit and do a roller ride. Plus you get to watch four episodes of The Wire.

  5. Karver

    I feel your pain, as I live in Canada. Rides in which the temperature is around -25 Celsius, without the windchill, are not uncommon. Imagine how WTF-bad the JoS (jokers of style) look on those days.

  6. Jimmy Willoughby

    King of style, I have been following your teachings like the Gospel. But my faith waivered a good bit when I saw those crocs.

  7. Grey Phil

    18″ of snow in Prairie Village, yes Dorothy we’re back in Kansas!

  8. firwave

    This would kill your style but below 10°F I wear goggles when biking or running. Too much cold air gets around the glasses. The cold I can handle the road deicer on the bike, I cannot.

  9. Dave in Boston

    Well done! I grew up in Durham, NH so I feel your pain. ABSOLUTELY function over fashion when frostbite is on offer. Take the bike into the warm shower (to clean it) with you… of course the road grim can clog up the drain. Enough already – go someplace warm!!

  10. Steve

    About to bundle up for a 4 hour ride. I’m on the other side of the state (Alstead) but in other ways, we’re on different planets. This is my second straight winter of suffering in the cold because I have a lot of catching up to do after 17 years off the bike to raise our two children. In a few minutes I will head out with several layers of Nashbar close-out gear under my NHCC kit. The booties I will pull over my shoes have more duct tape than neoprene. The Ibex wool cap I got for volunteering at last year’s West Hill Shop cyclocross race will keep my melon warm. After bundling up, I will mount the Cannondale I bought for a couple hundred bucks from a friend that is sponsored by them and turn over the two Rolf wheels a teammate’s loaned me. And, I will cherish the 4 hours on my bike just as you did yesterday (and the day before that and today and tomorrow). Isn’t it so cool that a pro and a 45+ master can share a similar experience? BTW, I am the guy that was parked next to you at the RR in Maine this summer–the one in the Dodge Caravan (which I had slept in the night before). Happy New Year!

    • Bruce Ewert

      You sound like me! 51, raced hard for almost twenty years a long time ago, and have gotten back on the hard road. I’ve lost 43 pounds in the last few months, with more to come. It feels great, doesn’t it?

      My favorite from of exercise in the winter is here: http://tinyurl.com/yeetdnc

      The bike can wait for a bit longer 😉

  11. Chucki188

    I woke up this morning and went for a ride in freezing SoCal. 50 degrees and I had on more gear than in your pic. We are such sissies out here. SERIOUS PROPS to you for getting out there.

  12. Susan

    My riding ninja suit has more “don’t shoot me orange” in it. I was a forestry major at UNH and was frequently was out in the woods in snow – I owned snowshoes for easier hiking. I now live in PA and awoke to an inch of snow and freezing rain.

    Both states have a state religion of hunting and my “doing forest inventory in the dead of winter/hunting season” clothes convert to the outer layers of “riding in the dead of winter” clothes now.

    I’ll be getting rides in tomorrow and Sunday. I do indoor cardio or core workouts if I’m home too late to ride. Trainer is next on my list of rewards to myself.

  13. Dan

    Whats you trick to staving off the “I didn’t drink anything because my bottles were froze solid 20 minutes after I left” headache?

    p.s. Crocs? Really? Don’t think a true king of style would even let those in the house.

  14. Richie

    Crocs??……really the photographer messed up there……other than that lookin as stylish as possible given the conditions!

    • iamtedking

      Yes. Crocs. Really.

      Crocs are so unique that they SCREAM style. If you have the gumption to wear them, then sport them with style.

  15. Spahr

    That “single digits” explanation bit killed me. Well played.

    Also, this was exquisitely hyperlinked as always.

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