Wanna go for a ride?
No its too cold.
A common response to seeing if someone wants to go for a late winter or early spring ride. And hey everyone has their comfort zone and I'm not here to judge that, but the saying there is no bad weather just bad clothing rings true here.
It also surprises me sometimes that people will spend over $5000 on a bike but not a few hundred dollars more on clothing to enjoy that bike more throughout the year. When you can nail your clothing a 5 degree sunny late October or early November day is Beautiful. Spring and Fall are almost my favourite times to ride as there is next to no traffic. I avoid places like Wasaga beach and certain roads in the summer like the plague but in the “off season” its great to visit those places.
First thing to realize about the gear you wear when its +30, is that its designed by brilliant engineers to keep you cool. Helmets, jerseys, shoes etc. So we need to modify or change stuff out when the mercury drops.
Starting from the bottom up at below zero you NEED either winter cycling shoes, or insulated windstopper booties. 0-10 You can switch to lighter windstopper or wool overshoes, 10-15 a lightweight shoecover should do you. And thin wool socks are also a great addition below 10 degrees.
Moving up the money makers you gotta keep those joints warm, talking ankles, knees, and hips. So again below zero, ditch the leg warmers and get a pair of insulated tights. Drop your saddle a mm or two as you'll wear them over your shorts. 0-5 Insulated, fleece lined leg warmers and maybe some embrocation. 5-10 lighter leg warmers, 10-15 I like to let my shins breath a bit and switch to a knee warmer.
PARENTS of young riders: The most common people I see under dressing are the youngest people in our sport. Watch the elite riders warming up for an event, even at 20 degrees you'll see them wearing vests, long sleeve jerseys, if its cloudy and windy knee warmers.
Torso: Two best items you can get are a good windstopper jacket and a vest. Underneath that experiment with wool undershirts, long sleeve jerseys. As it warms up you can ditch the windstopper and just wear the long sleeve jersey and vest, then jersey, arm warmers, vest, then jersey arms etc etc.
Head, below zero and Id almost say 3 degrees, a cycling cap with ear protection, and a buff around your neck that you can pull up over your nose and cheeks as you hit the head winds. Also dermatone is a great product for sun and wind protection. Helmet covers like what Lazer has for their helmets are also great. As it warms up a cap is always a great thing to start a ride with, and they are easy to take off.
Gloves: Build an arsenal of gloves, From insulated lobster mitts for winter, insulated windstopper full finger for 0-5 degrees. Windstopper full finger, even lighter full finger, all the way up to road gloves. I have about 6 different glove types I wear depending on weather.
Start a clothing diary, before and after each ride, log what you wear and the weather. And how it went, did your feet get cold, did your hands get cold? Did you eyeballs freeze? After a while it will become second nature but you need to experiment a little bit.
Build that arsenal of clothing and you'll never regret it. We live in the great white north but even with the harshest winters lately,(global warming??) The roads are still clear enough to ride 8-9 months out of the year. That's where I hit my limit its usually not weather but when the roads ice over and cars are sliding into ditches every couple hundred meters.
If you simply don't enjoy riding when its cold out that's A- OK no judgement here, just sayin its possible to be comfortable with some smart gear choices
Next blog- How to build the ultimate kick ass winter riding machine. You know your doing it right when it looks like something out of Mad Max.