People often say to me, “Don’t you get cold?” The honest answer is almost always, “No.” I don’t get as overheated as I do in the summer, but I still sweat like crazy in below freezing temperatures. And that’s a good thing. When your headwind is upwards of 15 mph, it’s nice for that wind to feel like a cool breeze.
10. 2 pairs of gloves/mittens. One lightweight and one heavy. Your hands will get frosty in the 40’s but ski gloves would make for incredibly sweaty palms. On the other hand (ba-dum-bum) a thin pair of stretchy gloves will not cut it when temps dip into the 30’s and below.
9. Ear protection. Joshua wears ear muffs. I can’t stand them. I wear a hoodie most days and pull the hood OVER my helmet. On exceptionally cold days I wear my rain coat/windbreaker hood UNDER my helmet.
8. Wind gear. L.L. Bean offers a Tek2 line of outdoor wear. I can’t recommend it enough. I have a simple, thin rain coat that’s incredibly lightweight and packable, but hell’s bells it keeps the wind out too. Not only that, but it keeps the heat I’m generating in. In fact, unless the temps are below 20, I don’t wear my Tek2 gear if I can help it because I get too warm. We chose general outdoor wear over bicycle specific gear because we get way more use out of it.
7. Footwear. I prefer to wear 2 pairs of wool socks with my Birkenstocks. On exceptionally cold days I wear L.L. Bean’s Tek2 trail shoes (waterproof. windproof.) Simple running shoes WILL NOT cut it in cold weather. They’re built for breathability and you do not want shoes that breathe when it’s 15 degrees and you’re traveling at 15 mph in a 15 mph headwind.
6. A lightweight scarf. Pashminas are perfect and come in so many colors that they don’t have to be girly. And frankly, function above fashion is a key element when riding your bike in the cold. Google 100% wool pashmina and choose your vendor.
5. Set your pace. Work too hard and get too hot. Work too little and get cold. Listen to your body.
4. Hydrate. That it’s cold and you’re not sweating as much as in warmer weather is not reason enough to skimp on beveraging. And of course, by beveraging, I mean water. Or chocolate milk. Chocolate milk is actually highly recommended: you need the calories, the sugar helps keep your electrolytes balanced, and the protein speeds muscle recovery.
3. Be sure to have warm clothes on hand when you arrive. If you’ve dressed down to avoid overheating on your ride and your flesh feels cold to the touch, you will feel cold to your bones when you start to warm up. Friction helps. Vigorously rub your legs/hands to warm your flesh.
2. Keep your bike covered. Winter weather can be unpredictable. Let’s face it: weather is unpredictable. Keep your bike covered with a roof if you can. We don’t have a garage. We used to hang our bikes on the patio. Now they stay nestled under a tarp. And we’ve actually reevaluated the order in which our bikes need to be locked up to maintain as much nestling as possible. Hurricane Sandy put our tarp to the test. Bungee cords are amazing.
1. Wool everything. Socks. Gloves. Hat. Scarf. Long underwear. Seriously. Wool is the best fabric for the cold. It both insulates and wicks. Points for organic. Double points for recycled wool.
Okay – 11 musts – HAVE FUN!!! Riding in the winter means that your bike is becoming more than a vehicle, biking is becoming your life. Celebrate!