Winter isn't too far off in some parts of the country while others are just now starting to cool off. Here are a few of my ideas and tips for the transitional season riding. So let's talk about it! I know a thing or two about winter riding. Some may say I’m an expert, while others may say I just live in Seattle. Either way, the following is my take on how to survive.
When it comes to riding outdoors a good rule of thumb, and a saying that we all will live and die by is, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”. Or to use the Boy Scouts of America motto… “Be Prepared”
The following is a general layering guide.
70 Degrees + (21C): Shorts and short-sleeve jersey, optional short-sleeve base layer.
60 Degrees (15.5C): Shorts and long-sleeve jersey, optional short/long-sleeve base layer.
50 Degrees (10C): Tights or leg warmers; insulated long-sleeve jersey with sleeveless or short-sleeve wicking base layer; or lightweight long-sleeve jersey with long-sleeve base layer.
45 Degrees (7C): Tights or leg warmers; long-sleeve wicking base layer and lined cycling jacket; thin full-fingered gloves; headband covering ears; wool socks and shoe covers.
40 Degrees (4.4C): Tights or leg warmers; long-sleeve heavy base layer and lined cycling jacket; medium-weight gloves; headband covering ears; winter cycling shoes, shoe covers, wool socks.
35 Degrees (1.7C): Heavyweight tights; long-sleeve heavy wicking base layer and heavy cycling jacket; heavy-weight gloves; headband covering ears; winter cycling shoes, shoe covers, wool socks.
30 Degrees (-1C): Heavyweight tights; long-sleeve heavy wicking base layer and heavy cycling jacket; heavy-weight gloves; lined skullcap; winter cycling shoes, shoe covers, wool socks.
25 Degrees (-3.9C): Winter bib tights; long-sleeve heavy wicking base layer, long-sleeve jersey and lined cycling jacket; mittens or lobster claw gloves; balaclava; winter cycling shoes, wool socks, shoe covers
20 Degrees (-6.7) and below: Winter bib tights; long-sleeve heavy wicking base layer, long-sleeve jersey and lined cycling jacket; mittens or lobster claw gloves; balaclava; winter cycling shoes, wool socks, shoe covers.
Another thing to consider about the temperature range you may find yourself riding in is the wind chill factor. Not just what your local weather man is telling you, but what speeds you will be riding at. Below is a comprehensive chart detailing just how much colder it is when you are riding. So take that into consideration when deciding just how much, or little, you will wear.
Another consideration is knowing your own body. I, for one, naturally run a little warm. Some of us may be more reptilian. So a little trial and error may need to take place to find that optimal layering combination to get you through your ride. This will really come into play if you find yourself riding in variable temperature zones. So you may want to opt for arm/leg warmers to pull up and down as needed vs tights and long-sleeve jersey.
Living in Seattle, I see my fair share of rain for the majority of the year. In fact I see so much rain up here that I have a bike dedicated to winter training. The main piece of equipment that you should outfit your bike with, if you find yourself riding in a lot of rain, would be a full set of fenders (buddy flaps are a must when riding with friends). The majority of water that we soak up as cyclists comes off of the road itself and not from the sky. Fenders will keep water coming off of your front wheel from spraying in your face and chest, as well as keeping your feet much dryer. Your rear fender will save your backside from getting blasted with water and road grime. Trust me when I say that the last thing you want to be dealing with on a wet miserable ride is road grit all up in your chamois. Think about that for a second…. yeah, it ain’t pretty!
Pro Tip: winterize your shoes. A trick I learned is to tape up any vents, especially on the underside of your shoes. Another thing I do is wrap my insoles with tin foil. just be sure to wrap them tight so as to not have any wrinkles or creases in contact with your foot. While I don’t have any scientific data to back this up, there is something to be said about placebos.
But it’s too cold and/or wet to ride outside, Jordan, what do I do now?
It’s time to bust out the trainer and/or rollers. I, for one, spend the majority of the winter riding indoors. I have no issues riding in the cold, but I save the cold and wet for race days, and for when cabin fever has gotten the best of me.
Part two coming soon....
- Jordan Bressler
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