Dressing For Cycling In Cold Weather
Dressing To Ride
Cycling In The Cold
Dressing to Cycle In Cold Weather
There are ways to dress for the cold for maximum comfort and warmth. You can be warm, feel good, and look good. Don’t make a fashion faux pas that could result in loss of anatomy.
Dress in layers so that the thinnest layers are closest to the body. Right next to your skin put thin natural fibers such as silk, wool, or the synthetics such as poly-pro, coolmax, or whatever the new wonder-moisture-wicking fabric may be called today. Put on one to several layers as needed. Put the thinnest next to your skin. You can always take layers off. Being thin layers, they can be put in one of the jersey/jacket pockets. Most of the new materials are “wicking” in that they push the moisture away from your skin.
Cotton is my favorite material in the warmer temperatures and every day relaxing. Cotton is my least favorite when trying to stay warm.
Over one or more layers of the natural or synthetic layers, put on a jersey of the latest warming formula. The names of the fabrics can change. I will always prefer three pockets in a jersey or outer garment. The pockets will carry your food, extra clothing, or whatever this special ride needs.
Note: the three pocket jersey will allow the heaviest object to be centered in the back. With two pocket jerseys, a heavy object can pull to one side and be uncomfortably annoying.
You should already have a tool bag with spare tube, tire tools, an inflating device, if not a pump mounted on the bike. Try not to weigh yourself down with unnecessary equipment.
When really cold I have preferred “tights” over my cycling shorts. Often, “tights” with a good chamois, is enough. Sometimes “tights” without a chamois over shorts is not enough. The worse the wind, the more this discomfort sets in.
New innovations lately have added knickers instead of the longer ankle length “tights” for those days that aren’t so brutal.
I may wear knee covers and arm warmers instead of full length jerseys and tights. This will allow you to pull off layers quickly as the sun warms the day. The knee covers will usually slide underneath your shorts. The arm warmers will do the same under the jersey sleeves. Get a snug fit so that these items don’t slide down easily.
For really, really cold weather a jacket may be a must. This would be on days when the temperature will not vary up and down to any degree. If you start out with a heavy jacket and the temperature climbs, you will sweat. This moisture will chill you terribly if the temp drops. This is where layers, arm, and leg warmers work best. For really cold situations, the outer layer might be looser fitting to create "loft". It's not aerodynamic but can be warmer.
There are nice light jackets and long sleeve jerseys with warmer linings for cycling in cold. You might keep a wind breaking shell folded in one of your pockets for a turn for the worse. These are very good for putting on at the top of a mountain pass for the fast cold descent. When climbing, you may open your outer coverings or adjust to avoid perspiring and creating too much cold moisture for later. When stopping on a ride, you may even take off layers temporarily to allow them to dry and shed moisture.
Socks should again be thinner next to the skin and heavier on the outside of those. You’ll need bigger shoes to wear many socks or some thick socks. An alternative to more socks can be “toe covers” for the outside of the shoe or full “shoe covers” or “booties”. These can be made thin out of lycra, thicker neoprene, hollofill, etc.
Chemical hand or toe "warming" products can be found in bike stores or hiking/camping stores. These dandy little packages can be activated by easily bursting a seal inside the pack or bending the package a few times.
Sandals can actually be used in winter with neoprene socks and “chemical warming products”. Be careful that your ride doesn’t outlast your “chemical warming products”.
You might use thin glove liners under your regular cycling gloves or fingered gloves. The warmest practical glove is sometimes referred to as the “lobster claw”. This glove holds the thumb separate, two fingers together, and two fingers together. This is warmer than having fingers separate and more practical than mittens.
Cover your head and neck well. The loss of warmth for your head will result in loss of blood to the extremities. This means- cover your head well or your hands and feet will get colder. Use a thin or thicker cover under the helmet and/or a full helmet cover.
Always wear a helmet.
Always wear eye protection.
After you put all this clothing on- you’ll have to use the restroom!
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