Monday, December 7, 2015

Winter-Proofing Your Workout: Cold Weather Cycling Gear

Giordana's toasty warm thermal cycling jersey.
This fall in the great northeast has been about 10 degrees warmer than normal. Still, those days are numbered as we move into winter. Now in previous years, I've been out riding on exceptionally warm days in both December and even January but those were rare occasions. If the cold weather has already locked you in, here's some ideas on getting out on the bike despite the cold.

Change up your cycling kit for a warm winter ride!

Choose Breathable Layers
You may want to switch out cotton for wool, silk or even synthetic base-layers next to the skin. This is because cotton gets wet from sweat and stays damp, chilling your core.  I like ultra thin silk underwear under my thermal jersey and a wool blend base-layer for especially cold days. Super Natural makes almost sheer, wool/polyester blend base-layers that are soft and very light against the skin. Even when you sweat, wool wicks it away while keeping you comfortable. See these warm under pieces at Super Natural online.

Wool-Polyester base layers are best at keeping you both warm and dry.

Bottoms Up-Thermal Cycling Bib Tights
I usually don't use base-layers on my lower extremities because my legs are doing the work during the ride. This allows me to get away with either thermal tights or even better, thermal bib-tights. Giordana Women's Thermal Bib Tights are made in Italy have a soft, brushed fleece lining. The fact that the bib-tights come up higher and cover more of your back make them a perfect cold weather companion. Whatever jersey you put on top, your backside will thank you for protecting it from the wind. Visit for both men & women's cold weather cycle-wear.  

Giordana Thermal Bib Tights
Keeping Your Head (Warm)
Let's face it. About 90% of your body's heat is lost from the head and neck area. If you have a vented cycling helmet, you can get a stretchy cover to go over top. This way you don't have to be uncomfortable trying to fit a beanie underneath. If it is exceptionally cold, I like to wear a very thin Gore-Tex Windstopper Balaclava which works under most bike helmets and covers both your head AND neck.

Gore-Tex Windstopper Balaclava

Additionally you can keep your ears warm while reducing wind noise with Cat Ears ear covers. These really work well on the road and keep your ears covered with a soft fleecy material. Simple but effective.

Cat Ears, ear covers.
Keeping Your Hands Warm
As soon as it gets around 50 degrees, I switch from no-finger to full fingered cycling gloves. I prefer leather palmed cycling gloves as the suede patches seem to grip better and insulate against road vibration. Giro Sport Designs makes full fingered leather cycling gloves in eye-catchy patterns that help keep you visible in traffic. Some people also like split mittens but I find them to be a little too bulky for steering and shifting. 

Giro Full Fingered Leather Cycling Gloves

Bring Along Something Warm to Drink
Rather than take along the standard issue frozen water bottle, you can think outside the cup and bring a thermos of something warm to drink. I've taken along hot cocoa, tea, coffee...whatever, just as long as it wasn't a chilled beverage. You can still bring along some water but having a thermos of something warm will help heat you from the inside out!

I pack some hot cocoa in my bottle cage. Here it's getting refilled!

Thermal Cycling Jerseys vs Jackets
I generally will prefer wearing a thermal cycling jersey with a light base-layer in temps of 50 degrees and below. However if there is precipitation like rain or snow, I will wear a breathable yet waterproof cycling jacket. I especially like the Portland Women's Jacket from Showers Pass. It is fully lined with a drop down extension for extra coverage in the rain/snow. Has stealthy zip pits and is fashionable enough to stop for a latte. I've worn this jacket in the rain and was fully comfortable. Check it out at Showers Pass online.

My Showers Pass Portland Jacket after a good soaking.

The Wrap
El Nino is giving us a temperate break so far but don't count on it lasting forever.  If you are like me and want to extend your cycling season, you may want to consider adding these pieces to your cycling wardrobe. I ride for both sport and transportation so the pieces should transition smoothly for you to be able to run errands without screaming "Spandex".  Really there's no need for that with cycle wear that is fashionable, contemporary and multi-functional.  Keep in mind that many of the tops, gloves and Balaclava can also be worn for other outdoor activities such as running/walking so it's a good investment if you like to workout, outside.

Try not to be this poor guy this winter.

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