Well, it’s about that time of year when skiers are wishing for snow, riders are wishing for…well, it doesn’t really matter to us!! It’s really difficult when the cold weather hits and we need to remember how we dressed last year for cold weather riding. I have some temperature guidelines that I go by and they seem to hold true (50 and up, 40 to 50 and 40 and below). Every person is different with how their body reacts to the range in temperatures which makes it difficult to tell people what to wear. Of course, in cold weather, you don’t want to mess around and not have enough to keep you warm. Always think about the possibility of a mechanical that can take up to 15 minutes to fix or if it can’t get fixed, you’re walking out. Test what you’re going to wear on shorter rides and this way, when you want to go on a longer ride, you have a good idea of how to dress.
It’s a good idea to have a pair of lined pants with or without a chamois. I have 2 pair without a chamois because I use them for running also, and when I ride, I wear my normal riding shorts underneath (keeps my behind a bit warmer too). Castelli Cycling makes some great cold weather gear that really holds up. I have worn other products but the seams come out, holes wear in quicker and well, they just aren’t as great. Having a lined top is also a good idea to wear underneath a long sleeve jersey or underneath a winter riding jersey.
Hands, they will be cold at first, whether you have winter riding gloves on or not. Don’t let your chilly hands stop you from riding, the harder you work, the hotter they will get! Be careful about the way you layer gloves, if you do. Too much sweat will sit inside the glove and make your hands very cold if you have to stop on your ride at all. Usually, if it’s really cold out, 30 degrees and under, I will put my summer gloves on with my winter gloves over them. As soon as I start to feel my hands warm up, not sweat, I take the top gloves off and my hands are good to go for the rest of the ride.
FEET!! I rode for about 4 seasons with my summer riding shoes. I bought a pair of covers for the shoes which, helped me get through the ride but, they clumped up with snow, I had to fix them, it was flat-out annoying. I have a pair of Sidi winter riding boots and O.M.G. they are amazing! They are waterproof and keep my feet nice and warm. Since my feet do get chilly, I double up on my socks because my boots are about a 1/2 a size too big so, I have the extra room. Winter riding boots can be pricy but remember this, you only wear them about 3 months out of the year and if your feet are important to you, and you like to ride, they will pay for themselves because they will last a long time.
Keep your head warm, duh. I have seen people wear wool hats under their helmet, I have seen people wear liners in their helmet to keep warm too. I usually stick with my liner inside my helmet and I’ll put a very thin hat on when it’s frigid out. Again, this depends on how hot you get but remember, most of the heat in your body is lost through your head so, keep it under wraps.
I hope everyone has a great winter season of riding. Whether you are on dirt roads, the trails or even find time to get on pavement for a cold day road ride, STAY WARM!! There is nothing worse than freezing on a ride which takes away the fun of it…and remember, it’s all about fun and happiness. So, if you want to keep riding, go visit your local bike shop, support them and get some gear. Like I said, winter gear can last a long time. Take care of it and it’s only worn a few months out of the whole year so, treat yourself!
Ride on people!!! Brrrrrr….