Biker’s Paradise

In three weeks, it will officially be winter. But January temps arrived here last week, way too cold, too soon. Mornings and evenings in the teens, bitter windchill, the works—only the snow hasn’t arrived, yet.

All of this made me realize that I need to solve a big problem I’ve been ignoring—I need to replace my very worn-out, favorite, red-suede, insulated winter gloves. The holes in the right hand can’t be mended and are growing bigger with each wearing.

Now, for most folks, this is not a big deal. Especially at this time of year, stores are well-stocked with rainbow displays of gloves of all different materials, styles and warmth. But my fingers are much shorter than an average size 7 glove, what I’d wear if I had normal hands. I don’t.

Due to complications with severe Raynaud’s and my scleroderma, my fingertips have all resorbed to stubby nubs. The longest finger on my right hand is only 2¼ inches long. I often have several fingertips bandaged to protect my ulcers. So normal gloves always have about an inch of extra fabric at the top that flops around and makes it hard to pick up things. Also, the fingers are often too narrow to accommodate my bandages. Children’s gloves are too tight.

I lucked out with those red gloves several years ago at a random fundraiser trunk sale. They have Thinsulate lining and roomy fingers that are shorter than standard gloves. No tag. No way to trace their origins.

So, replacing them called for some creative problem solving. I turned to the Internet and googled “women’s gloves short fingers.” At first, all I found were gloves for cyclists without fingertips. I kept looking. There were sites for outdoor adventurers, but those gloves cost a fortune. Custom-made gloves were out of the question.

Then I discovered sites for bikers. A goldmine. It would never have occurred to me, but, of course, bikers need warm gloves for cold weather—sturdy, insulated, flexible leather gloves for gripping motorcycle handles.

The idea of walking into a biker shop, however, felt a bit intimidating. I’m sure I’m guilty of stereotyping, but I’m about as far from a biker as you can get. So I did some more online search and found a great biker retail store near Boston. They sell very affordable leather gloves in a range of sizes, with wide fingers that look slightly curved. Perfect.

I could have emailed, but I decided to call. A pleasant woman named Melanie answered. I explained my dilemma, that I have very short fingers and wasn’t sure what size to order.

“Oh,” she said, “you’re just like me! I have short fingers, too. I hadn’t thought about gloves, though, because I put my bike away for the winter.”

I confessed I wasn’t a biker and described the details of my hand issues.

“You’ve come to the right place,” she said. “Biker gloves come in all different sizes, for a great price.” This all made perfect sense. A real niche market.

She offered to go try on some gloves and report back. We determined that her tallest finger is about a half-inch longer than mine. A few minutes later, Melanie returned to the phone.

“I’m trying on this pair of smalls, and they are quite comfortable on me,” she said. “You might even try the extra-smalls.”

“Are you sure they’ll be wide enough across the palm?”

“I have very square palms,” she said. “Where’s that measuring tape?” She determined that her palm was 4½ inches across to the outside of her thumb joint.

“Okay, let me check,” I said. We were both laughing at this point, comparing these intimate details of our physiognomy. My measurement was about a half-inch shorter. The extra-small sounded like the right size. She assured me that the style runs to a triple-extra-small and likewise in the other direction, and that they take returns and exchanges.

I thanked her for her help and placed my order online. The gloves should arrive in a few days. If they don’t fit, I’ll drive to the store in my Prius, meet Melanie and find the right pair. I may be an unusual customer, but then, hands are hands. And it’s an adventure. Who would have thought my scleroderma would land me in a biker’s paradise?

Evelyn Herwitz blogs weekly about living fully with chronic disease, the inside of baseballs, turtles and frogs, J.S. Bach, the meaning of life and whatever else she happens to be thinking about at


  1. Pat Bizzell says:

    This was a fun post (in spite of the sad details about your finger problems)–I loved the account of you and Melanie “fitting” you over the phone. I sure hope the gloves that arrive in the mail are right, but I also kind of hope they aren’t, because I think it would be so fun for you to meet Melanie in person.

    In re. the connotations of the word “biker,” they are indeed sinister, but maybe that also depends on the circles in which one moves. My neighbor across the street loves to ride his motorcycle, and he is a stand-up family man with the loveliest lawn on the block. It’s kind of like the connotations associated with guns. For many, guns are just instruments of the Devil and anyone who owns or uses them is evil. But that’s forgetting how many people like to hunt–like my dear father, gone now, who was a keen shot hunting quail–or to target-shoot. Dad did not believe that a girl should or could learn to handle a gun, but I confess I’m learning it now, just for target-shooting, and it’s fun, and I am the farthest thing from a ruffian that you can get. 😉

    • Agreed, we all carry around our own preconceived notions of people who are different from us. All too easy to rely on categories rather than nuances.

      My gloves shipped today, and as an added sweet detail, I got a personal email from the sales person to tell me the website had accidentally charged me too much for postage, so he reduced the fee. Whether or not these gloves fit, one of these days I’m going to have to go there just to meet the people!

  2. Kathy Pulda says:

    Hog Heaven!

  3. Vivian Tiegen says:

    Please post your photo with your new gloves. I’m proud to have you as my first biker chick friend.

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