Cold Hard Facts On Riding in the Winter

Stay warm, keep riding.

As the daylight wanes and the weather gets colder, staying warm and comfortable is the key to cycling through the fall, winter and early spring seasons. Cycling is an activity that produces heat and sweat, and the challenge in cold weather is to hold in the heat you generate while staying as dry as possible. Layering your clothing is key, and you should plan to dress for the coldest part but with the options to tailor your comfort by adding or shedding clothes. You want to remain comfortable without overheating, adding a layer if you are too cold, and removing a layer if you are getting too warm.

Cycling can be enjoyed year around if you have the right clothing for colder temperatures. Since your reaction to the heat or cold varies depending on your personal biological makeup, where you live and your riding experience, the correct clothing for the temperature is whatever works for you. You may find that you prefer to wear arm warmers when the temperature dips into the 70’s. Humidity and wind are additional factors to consider when dressing for comfort in colder weather, as an increase in either may warrant an extra layer of protection. Bike the Planet, a bike shop in Memphis, offering repair services.

The Keys to Staying Warm

  • Protect your head, your neck, and your Core. Keeping these vital areas warm will make it easier to keep your hands, legs and feet warm.
  • Protect your extremities–your hands, legs, and feet, and build in a bit of flexibility so that you can add or remove articles of clothing in order to keep your body comfortable as the weather warms up or cools down. Combining your existing cycling gear with a few new garments will extend your comfort range much later in the year.
  • Avoid cotton and opt for a wicking base layer made from polyester, lycra or wool to keep your trunk warm and dry. Cotton traps sweat next to your skin which robs you of the precious heat you need to trap. Damp and cold are a dangerous mix when you are miles from your home or car.
  • Start your ride dressed in slightly less clothing than you need. You’ll warm up very quickly after you begin riding, and this minimizes sweat buildup. If you’re in doubt, stash an extra garment like an extra jersey, vest or skull cap.

Building a Basic 4 Season Wardrobe

There are many options for all temperatures, but here are the essential clothing items you will need if you want to ride in most weather conditions.

To protect your upper body:

  • Sleeveless and sleeved, wicking base layers
  • Short sleeve jersey
  • Arm warmers
  • Long sleeve jersey
  • Vest and/or windproof jacket with zip-off sleeves
  • Waterproof jacket

To protect your lower body

  • Lycra shorts
  • Leg warmers or knee warmers
  • Windproof Tights
  • Insulated tights

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