This time of year is tough for a cyclist in the frigid snow belt of the US. It seems like I have been bundling up to ride outside for a very long time and the warmth of spring is still a ways off. The days are slowly starting to get long and that is always welcome. I don’t hate riding indoors but I don’t seem to be as motivated to doing the mind numbing workouts like I used to. I have been cycling seriously for 22 years and have learned a few tricks to cold weather riding survival.
Keep your feet warm: In a previous post I talked about the toasty winter riding boots I use. These boats combined with the carbon activated hand warmers keep my feet toasty and allow for longer rides in the bitter cold without the discomfort of frozen toes.
Warm Hands: Keeping my hands warm is the next priority. Like your feet these are very delicate areas that are just sitting in place therefore do not create there own warming factor. Unlike feet the hands can get too warm, start to sweat and then get cold. Because of that factor I have an “arsenal” of gloves to choose from. Below is a table of what I wear and the corresponding temperatures.
|Cycling Gloves||60 - 70|
|Cycling gloves and windproof shell||50 - 60|
|Long finger gloves||50 - 60|
|Long finger gloves and windproof shell||40 - 50|
|Thick gloves||30 - 40|
|Lobster gloves||below 30|
You will notice there is some overlap. On long rides the temperature can change 20-30 degrees, warmer or colder, as you ride. During those rides I cannot carry all the gloves I will need. That is where the windproof shell comes in very handy. To look at these gloves you would not think they would be very warm. If you can keep the wind off your hands it is amazing how much warmer they are. They are easy to store in your pocket or bike bag and allow quite a bit of flexibility. During late afternoon rides in the spring and fall I will likely have these gloves in my pocket. In addition most wind proof gloves are also water proof. That does not mean wearing them while riding in the rain will keep your hands 100% dry but it sure helps. There are several brand of windproof gloves on the market. Make sure if you buy a pair that they fit over your cycling gloves. I very rarely, if ever wear mine by themselves.
Ian Henriksen, Eric Henriksen, Bret McGreer, Jon Sulzberger, Greg Harper, Me
Bike club New Year’s Day Ride
One of my latest “discoveries” had been riding with ski goggles. I started this last year in an attempt to keep my cheeks warm. The cheeks are a hard part of the face to keep warm. If you pull your balaclava up too far it covers the nose and fogs your glasses. Goggles not only keep me cheeks warm they also don’t fog up the instant you stop at an intersection. Busy intersections are not a good time to have your vision impaired. If the temperature is 30 degrees or below I am wearing goggles. You can buy a pair at most sporting goods stores for as little as $20 or as much as $100. Mine cost $19.99. Make sure they are anti-fog and have good padding where they sit against your face. The anti-fog lenses are actually two lenses with an air pocket in between. As you can see in the above picture goggles were popular on this 14 degree windy day. The rider second from the left actually ending up wearing goggles as well.
Don’t let the cold temperatures force you inside all winter. With some smart options you can venture outside even on the coldest days. Winter gear is a great investment. It will not get used very often so it should last for many years.
Weelkly Miles: 200.29
Monday - 25 easy around town on Cyclo-cross bike
Tuesday - 40 on velodyne doing various intervals with Doyley
Wednesday - 28 road bike out F70
Thursday - 36.2 Cyclo-cross bike with Greg on his B-day
Saturday - 30 easy on Velodyne
Sunday - 51 on raod bike F70, Nichols, Conesville and G28