Overheating in cold weather is one of the worst things you can do, but being cold is equally awful. Here's how to strike a balance.
You do not want to freeze the entire time, but you do not want to overheat (or worse, soak your clothes in sweat). So, what gear do you really need when it comes to cycling on cold weather? Let's take a look.
If the temp is above 70, there's no reason to add anything to your normal kit. A jersey and bibs or shorts, and normal socks should do the trick. No need to get complicated or overthink things here!
As temperatures drop, however, you'll need to start adding things. Just keep one thing in mind: it's easy to remove or add layers while on the bike coldest part of your ride. There's nothing worse than starting in the mid-60s and getting into the evening. The sun goes down, leaving you much more than you'd like to be.
So you need to think about how you dress. Cycling is an interesting sport, because your lower half is constantly moving and working hard.
So when it comes to staying warm, start with your core and move outward. A warm core will help keep the rest of your body warm, because the blood pumped from your heart is warmer, which transfers to the rest of your body.
Gear in the 60s: Full-Fingered Gloves, Base Layer Top, and Hat
To stay nice and comfortable, you should at least consider adding a layer of some kids under your jersey-probably short-sleeved at this point, but you could also substitute a long-sleeved base layer, especially as the temps drop into the lower 60s. Merino wool base layers work exceptionally well for this, so they are not naturally harmful to bacteria, so they are naturally anti-microbial. That's cool.
Of course, you can use something you may already have in your closet-I ride on Under Armor Hear Gear compression shirt as a base layer (anyway, anyway) and have been really happy with that.
Otherwise, you may want to sub in some full-fingered cool weather gloves to keep your digits from getting cold, and thus a heavy-duty cycling cap under your helmet. Gear in the 50s: Arm and Leg / Knee Warmers, Vest, Wool Socks, and Shoe Covers
As you continue to get cooler, you're getting more gear-but this is where things start to get more complicated. Because you may start a ride in the mid-60s and end in the low 50s, it can make the right balance of gear a challenge.
important. For example, you can start with poor warmers around your wrists instead of pulling them all the way up.
The same thing applies to a vest-most vests are small and thin (they're mostly made to break the wind), so they can be rolled up pretty tight and stuffed into a jersey pocket. Then, as you get colder, you can pull it out and put it on. Or if you're getting too hot, roll it up and stuff it in your jersey pocket.
Lastly, if you're tired of having a baby, it's probably time to add some wool socks-at least some lightweight ones-and possibly even toe or shoe covers. Gotta keep them toes just make sure you get the correct type of covers for your shoes! Road shoes require different covers than mountain shoes, for example.
This is the point where you can sub in embrocation if you want-especially in the low 50s. This heating cream is great to keep you warm without the need for arm and leg warmers, but it's probably too much in the upper 50s. And since you can not easily take it off like you can with arm / leg / knee warmers, be wary of overheating if you apply when temps are too high. Competitive Cyclist has a good guide on how to use and embro
Gear in the 40s: Thermal Jersey, Thermal Bibs, and Thermal Hat / Ear Covers
As the temperatures drop into the 40s, it starts to get cold on the bike. The air is colder and starts to cut through most clothes, chilling you to the bone. Still, it is frigid outside.
That's where thermal gear comes into play. Thermal bibs and jerseys are both recommended at this point, which are generally designed in a way to vent heat where needed (generally on the back side) and keep you warm overall.
So you can bring in a thermal base layer under a regular jersey Under Armor Cold Gear is excellent for this. When riding in frigid temps, I'll often throw a cold gear mock turtleneck under a traditional jersey, which is one of my favorite pairings.
Similarly, you'll probably want to cover your ears a little better at this point , A thermal has works well for this, though keep in mind that if you add this when the temps are a little too high you'll start to overheat. A thermal cap wants to hold heat against your scalp, where heat usually escapes.
Gear in the 30s: Tight, Heavy Gloves, and a Balaclava
How to use this one sparingly, and generally only when the temps dip into the lower 40s.
So, if you have not figured this out now, we're layering at this point.
When temperatures start to get into the 30s, well, you're pretty dedicated at this point. My personal threshold for riding outside is about 45 or so-anything below that and I'd rather just stay indoors and ride the coach.
But I digress, on the pavement in the 30s, by God, you do it! You'll want to throw on some heavy tights over your bibs (running tights are fine since you're wearing them over your bibs-you can wear them over regular bibs or thermals) heavy winter gloves, and you can submerge in a balaclava instead of a thermal cap in the lower 30s If you're looking to buy a balaclava, make sure you find yourself a "hung" model down from your face if you start to get too warm.
Gear in the 20s and Below: Throw Your Closet At It
If you want to ride in the 20s and below, you're going to be pretty up. A thermal base layer, thermal bibs, thermal jersey, cycling jacket, wool socks, heavy shoe covers, heavy gloves (or lobster claws), toe warmers in your shoes, and pretty much everything else is fair game. too much over overheating.
So, I applaud your dedication.
Image Credit: Paul Vasarhelyi / shutterstock.com