Monday, January 12, 2009

Baby . . . It's Cold Outside

2 people + 1 ride in 40° weather = 1 huge pile of laundry.

I’m learning that dressing for cold weather cycling is an art. If I start out with enough clothes so I’m comfortable while standing in the driveway, I’m going to be too warm after about 10 minutes of riding, at which time I’ll need to stop and shed gear, and by then I’ll be cold again. Ugh.

What to wear is also dependent on the elevation profile of the planned ride. If you are doing a big climb with too many clothes on, you’ll heat up and get sweaty – then coming back downhill is miserable because you are wet. So you need to layer in order to stay warm without getting too sweaty.

Here are some tips for dry, cold weather riding based on experience from the last few weeks (I probably run a little cooler than most of the guys reading this, so plan your layers accordingly):

First, spend the money to get a couple really high quality base layer items - Craft base layers are unbeatable. Under Armour is making some good stuff these days, too. If you are on a tight budget, check out the Champion line Target carries. For your outer layers, consider anything with Gore Windstopper technology. Also, REI is having their huge winter clearance sale right now - REI store brand items are an incredible value, especially when they are on sale.

[Nike baselayer, Fox Fleece jersey, Pearl Izumi AmFib tights and Specialized Therminix tights]

40-55 degrees:
Long sleeve wicking top with zip neck
(Maybe) arm warmers under the sleeves of the undershirt
Long sleeve jersey
Windproof vest
Lined tights and shorts
Mid-weight gloves
Skull cap
Mid-weight wool socks &
½ shoe covers

30-40 degrees:
Long sleeve wicking top with zip neck
Long sleeve fleece semi-windproof jersey
Windproof vest
Windproof jacket
Tights with windproof panels on the front [Specialized Therminix or Pearl Izumi AmFib] and shorts
Warm windproof gloves and Mid-weight gloves (may need to change from one pair to the other during the ride)
Skull cap
Mid-weight wool socks &
Full shoe covers

Colder than 30 degrees?

Shorts and a wicking tank top!

I’m inside on the CompuTrainer if it is below 30 degrees outside. I know there are lots of folks riding down to zero or below, but I’m not tough enough for that.

One other tip - don't try to wear thick, heavy socks unless you have a pair of cycling shoes that are 1 or 2 sizes too large. Otherwise you inhibit the circulation in your toes, and you'll be miserable. If you are having problems with frozen toes and don't have a spare pair of larger "winter shoes," go with a lighter sock and get a heavier shoe cover, if necessary.

Happy riding - and stay warm out there.

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