My methods of riding in the coldddddd...

Cajun Posts: 1,048
edited December 2008 in Road beginners
My methods of preparation for riding in cold weather:

a.Winter shoes, such as SIDI (Storm or Freeze) or Northwave, offer better protection than shoe covers, plus eliminates the struggle to put on shoe covers or taking them off.. Trying to wear a thick Wool sock in your Summer-designed shoe will make the feet cold because of the heat transfer…the shoe cover will block the wind, but the <35°F temp will still make the feet cold.
b.Shoes should be 1 full size larger than your normal ‘Spring thru mid-Winter’ shoes to allow for 1 pair heavy Merino wool socks. You NEED some ‘space’ to allow air to help with the heat retention. You can still walk comfortably when necessary. The more you stuff into the shoe, the quicker the heat transfers out!
c.You can replace the insole with a insulated, thermal type. (check out Toasty Feet Insoles @ and I believe that they are now available at Wal-mart): ... earch.y=11 They are very light, thin and tested at –106°F and the bottom of the bare-foot remained at +72°F…your foot will NOT get cold from the air leakage in the cleat area!!
d.Chemical Toe Heaters are a bonus if your toes are subject to getting cold quickly…. typically they last for about 5-6 hours..

a.Knee length, heavyweight (Smartwool or hi-tech thermal)...knee length will provide additional insulation & warmth to the shin area.
b.Interior should have ‘fabric loops’ (not smooth) on the inside for air to trap the body heat.

3.Upper body: Layering is best and the better quality technical wear will/can be thinner and warmer and each layer should be capable of wicking your heat & perspiration. thus allowing you to enjoy your ride rather than feel like you’re an overheated, sweating blimp with clothing. I like arm warmers underneath a breathable, windproof jacket…if I get too hot, I can remove them without problems.
a.Base layer: Thin, short sleeve similar to Patagonia’s Capilene, Wicker’s or Polartec products.
b.Layer #2: Short sleeve jersey & arm warmers.
c.Layer #3: Thin, light-weight, hi-tech jacket that breathes exceptionally well, as well as blocks the wind, i.e. ASSOS Micro Climate or LG Gloucester for >35°F.
d.Option #1: Light-weight vest for blocking chest-wind; mesh back & preferably rear pockets, i.e., Louis Garneau Atmos Vest for >35°F.
e.Layering depends on your own comfort zone.
f.Option #2: Assos Gator jacket with item ‘b’ (above) for <35°F.

4.Gloves: Leather palms, Nylon back w/terry covered thumb & forefinger and good insulation.

5.Tights*: One pair of good wind resistant, insulated tights…along with a pair of riding shorts underneath..(two or three layers here will make the legs very uncomfortable; feeling like you’ve added 3” to each leg..) and when really cold, add thin polypropylene tights:
My preference here are the ASSOS Airblock bibs…other good brands on the market too.
*Bib tights for guys: If your bib tights don’t have a zipper in the front, take them to an Alteration Shop and have a heavy-duty, nylon zipper installed….(no explanation needed.)

6.Head protection: I only wear a winter headband w/ear covering ; though there are plenty of good head-covers on the market ( I get overheated easily and need to let the body heat escape via ‘chimney effect’.)

7.Face protection: A very thin application of Petroleum Jelly (Vaseline or A&D) to your face and lips helps to keep the skin from becoming chapped or stinging from the cold temperature & winter wind…(don’t apply to the nose, your glasses may slip down). If riding for more than 90 minutes, a good lip balm should accompany you for hourly applications.

8.A Balaclava is an excellent choice for facial protection, especially when the winds are above 15mph and the temp is <35°F.
a.A good one should have a mouth opening, to prevent condensation and fogging up your glasses . (My choice is the Mountain Hard Wear, which also has nose protection; . ... wAll=False )

9.Wind noise in the ears:
a.f the forecast for wind speeds are going to be in the >20mph range, and you’re not going to wear any ear covering, just put one-half of a cotton ball in each ear…you can still hear, but it will dampen the noise.

10. Cotton or Nylon products should be avoided as clothing gear:
a.Cotton retains water, gets cold/stays cold and heavy.
b.Nylon (typically) doesn’t breathe… excellent for blocking the wind but retains body heat and perspiration.

Last, but not least: When dressing for a ride, don’t start out ‘warm & comfortable’…. you’ll be hot & sweaty 3 miles down the road…. being a ‘little chilly’ in the beginning should warm your body enough for a nice 3-4 hour ride…

An inexpensive, but excellent, source of thermal wear is Wickers: ... erwear.cfm?

If all of this falls below your standards of riding in the cold, you can review the following:


  • I was reading that thinking either this person is American or like REALLY old - then i looked at your location.

    (because of the °F - *my* brain just doesn't understand how it relates to real life temperature)
  • Cajun
    Cajun Posts: 1,048
    Yes; correct on both assumptions... USA & 68yo..... shouldn't have used 'F°' in an International posting... ... ulator.php

    32°F = 0°C
    35°F = 1.7°C
    72°F = 22°C
    -106°F = -76.7°C

    Cheers mate
    Merry Christmas !!
  • No worries - I did go away and google the conversions - some good advice

    Although i have never got on with lip balm - I find it's one of those 'the more you use it the more you need it' things.
  • Nuggs
    Nuggs Posts: 1,804
    Wow - that's a pretty detailed post.

    I suspect it reveals much about how you feel the cold.

    You go into a great deal of detail on how you keep your feet warm, but dedicate only a line or so to your hands.

    For me it's the other way around. I'm fine with regular shoes, two pairs of thin socks and some lined neoprene overshoes. However, my hands really suffer!

    Thanks for taking the time to post. :)
  • giant_man
    giant_man Posts: 6,878
    I totally agree with the winter boots point, being one large bigger to create the warm air space. Works for me. Some good advice there.
  • feel
    feel Posts: 800
    For me
    skull cap under helmet that covers ears, clear glasses (that tend to steam up :( ) to stop eyes watering and a buff over neck and maybe over chin or nose if it is really bitter, otherwise pretty standard.
    We are born with the dead:
    See, they return, and bring us with them.
  • Garry H
    Garry H Posts: 6,639
    Cajun, out of interest, are you also a mountaineer/climber?
  • Cajun
    Cajun Posts: 1,048
    Where I live in the US, there are no Mountains to climb within 1000miles....wish there were; I was amazed how beautiful the mountains were in Europe when I spent some time in the military there..
    As for riding temperatures; that's relative; depending a lot on the cloud cover and wind speed.
    I ride for sheer enjoyment, so a -2°C day with 20mph winds and 80-100% cloud cover makes a chilling ride for me...I'll do it; but probably only about 35 miles....but with a clear blue sky, I'll probably do 40-50miles... Biking is a passion for me, not a vocation :shock:

    I failed to mention a product that I found a few years ago; "Warm Skin"...great for applying to exposed skin; doesn't create warmth, just seems to form a barrier to prevent your body heat from escaping (has the texture of your wife's Cold Cream but disipates quickly),, ... &Itemid=36
    One method I found for keeping the finger-tips from freezing, is to stop after about 10miles, remomve gloves and to cup fingertips in opposite hand for warming up... do this for a couple of minuntes and put the gloves back on....can't explain it, but the fingertips seem to warm up afterwards (Lobster-style gloves are warmer than std. gloves; the fingers contribute heat to each other...although I don't have any :( )

    btw: I have a son in Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire.... he's not a cyclist....into Archery
  • Cajun
    Cajun Posts: 1,048
    LittleB0b wrote:
    No worries - I did go away and google the conversions - some good advice

    Although i have never got on with lip balm - I find it's one of those 'the more you use it the more you need it' things.

    I agree....but I find that riding on a cold, windy day, my lips have a tendency to get chapped after about 30 miles... other than that, I totally agree with the 'habit' useage..
  • Cajun
    Cajun Posts: 1,048
    edited December 2008
    I sold my Kreitler Challenger rollers (to help buffer the cost) and purchased eMotion Inside rollers...they're fantastic but I still prefer the road for riding; as long as there's no snow, ice or black ice... I still haven't perfected my performance (or confidence) to view a tele while on the rollers...
  • Obviously YMMV

    I have a pair of recessed spd shoes for my commuter and a pair of dhb R1s both size 42. I have no problems fitting waterproof sealskinz socks in both. They keep my toes fine and if there's an extra bit of windchill I whip out the £5 Aldi oversocks for near-enough total wind block.

    As far as layering goes, I seem to have thermal blood (or being a good scotsman, porridge for breakfast provides plenty insulation) so I get by on a longsleeve merino baselayer then a longsleeve cycling jersey topped off with a Montaine Featherlite. Ay more than that and I get too hot. Oh and a pair of the 3/4 dhb roubaix bibs - Earnleys?

    Windproof gloves and a skull cap :)
    Also spinning a higher cadence than usual helps
    Roadie: Focus Cayo - FCN 4
    Commuter hack: Fixed Langster - FCN 5
    Winter hack: Battered Sirrus - FCN 9