This past Tuesday was the official first day of winter. If you are someone who can’t think of a worse method of torture than being cold, this might not be exciting. We all know with winter brings the cold. This doesn’t mean you have to stop riding your bike outdoors. Staying warm in the coldest temperatures is easy to do with the proper clothing.
In my 14+ years in the cycling industry, the most asked question this time of year is “How do you stay warm?” Which is then usually followed by “What should I wear?” Just remember your head, hands, feet and core. Here are some tips to keeping each of them warm.
Core – Believe it or not, big puffy jackets aren’t needed. Base layers and a wind blocking layers are however. A good base layer will trap your body heat. A wool one can even be worn for multiple days without smelling like a funk factory. Base layers also allow you to wear a temperature appropriate windproof jacket. Your core shouldn’t be neglected as the blood flow starts there. If the blood is not warm when it leaves to head towards your extremities, your hands and feet don’t have a fighting chance.
Head – Your head is probably the easiest to keep warm with the least amount of fabric. The best options are a skull cap which covers the top of your head and ears and a full face balaclava. Allow the temperature to dictate which one to wear on today’s ride with the balaclava being the warmer of the two. Another bonus to the balaclava is when it’s worn over the mouth, it warms the air going into your lungs thus making it easier to breath.
Feet – Keeping your toes/feet warm is a tough for a lot of riders. When teamed with a nice pair of wool socks, toe covers and full shoe covers work well for a lot of people. For those who need more warmth, there are fully insulated winter shoes.
Hands – The answer to how to keep your hands worn is simply, options. Gloves will come in a variety levels of warmth ranging from simple wind blocking all the way to “if your hands aren’t sweating, your heart isn’t beating” lobster gloves. Gloves are designed to protect your hands from moisture from the outside in not inside out. If you choose a glove that is too warm, your hand will sweat and those causing your glove to get wet. Once your glove is wet, your hand will get cold. Very cold! You want to be able to choose your glove so your hands are warm but they don’t sweat heavily. A common mistake is buying gloves which are too tight on the hand. On longer rides (either time or miles) the material of your glove will get cold. If you’re gloves are too tight and contacts your fingertips directly, the cold will be transferred resulting to cold fingers. By leaving a little space at the end of the fingertips, body heat can collect thus insulating your hand from the cold.
I hope these simple tips will help you stay warm this winter and enjoying some amazing rides.