Are you sick of using your trainer and riding indoors this winter? Try switching it up and ride outdoors. It is worth it to try, but you must be prepared for the cold weather. By cold weather, I mean below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Here are some suggestions for what to wear for your cold weather cycling gear.
Tights, Leg Warmers or Bib:
If you choose to wear tights, you would wear your cycling shorts with the padding underneath them. This will give you an extra layer of warmth. You can also buy tights with pads built in. Tights come with an elastic waist or shoulder straps like a bib. The straps are to keep your tights from falling down.
Another option is cycling leg warmers. Your cycling short’s legs should overlap the leg warmers so there is no skin exposed. The advantage of leg warmers is that you can take them off if you get too warm.
If you don’t like tights, there are plenty of options for athletic pants that are not clingy and offer flexibility and mobility. I recommend 4ucycling Windproof Athletic Pants for Outdoor and Multi Sports. These are for men but some pants are unisex. For women, I recommend RBX Active Women’s Fleece Arctic Barrier Athletic Tights
Whichever way you choose, make sure your pants are breathable and water-resistant to keep you dry from road spray in inclement weather. You also want to make sure they have a thermal fleece lining to prevent heat loss. Make sure your pants are synched or tight at the bottom to prevent rubbing or getting caught while riding.
For women’s clothing, CardioTrainingGuru.com will continue to research women’s active wear to direct women to the right companies for cycling and athletic clothing.
Head- under the helmet head cover vs. helmet cover:
A helmet cover guards your head against moisture and windchill. If it starts raining or snowing the helmet cover will shield your head from the elements. If you are wearing a skull cap it can get wet and cold. A moist skull cap will do more harm than good as the head will feel many degrees colder and lose body heat faster. The helmet covers are made to be more protective. Also, to regulate your body temperature, it is easier to snap off the helmet cover, if your head overheats and sweats excessively.
I recommend the GORE BIKE WEAR Universal 2.0 Gore-Tex Helmet Cover
If you are going with a helmet cover, you will still need something to capture sweat and keep your ears warm. I recommend a headband with ear warmers that are thermal dry fabric and light weight. They also have versions that have a ponytail port if you have long hair. For example, the Pearl iZUMi Thermal Headband. A combination of head cover and helmet cover is the best way to go.
In some conditions, you will want to wear a Balaclava that covers your head, neck, ears, nose and mouth. You want to make sure it is light- weight and breathable. Also that it is easy to adjust in different ways to fit your needs. For example, pulling it down to expose your mouth. It is also good to heat the air coming into your lungs. The seams on the balaclava can be uncomfortable, so try wearing it inside out. Look into the best-selling Rovtop Balaclava Ski Mask Premium on Amazon.
You also want to protect any exposed skin from the cold. Applying a thin film of petroleum jelly on your cheeks, nose, and ears will help.
You want to wear a good pair of sports glasses this time of year more than ever. Not only should you protect your eyes from the wind and cold but from sun glare. The biggest problem with cycling glasses in the winter is fogging. To prevent your glasses from fogging, you can put gel toothpaste without baking soda on them. The baking soda can scratch your lenses. This is cheaper than buying lens spray.
Wind Mitts/ Gloves:
The key to choosing the right glove is to find the right amount of warmth without adding bulk. If it’s really cold, wear a pair of cycling glove liners under your wind stopper gloves. Layers are always a good idea because they can be removed if you get too hot. If it is really cold, use hand warmers inside your gloves.
Lobster gloves are good style to try. Since your two fingers are always together, it helps with warmth, shifting your gears and breaking. It is best to try out different kinds and stick to what’s best for you.
Look for socks that have compression aspects such as arch support and ventilation. It is important to wear something that keeps your feet warm but dry. This will be trial and error to find the best sock that is comfortable for you. If it’s really cold, insole feet warmers will help.
You also will want to purchase shoe covers for your cycling shoes. They will protect your feet from the rain, snow, cold and the salt on the roads. Make sure you buy waterproof neoprene, the stuff that wetsuits are made from, shoe covers. The key is to buy a pair that is slightly larger than your cycling shoes. For men and women, I recommend the Louis Garneau Men’s Neo Protect II Cycling Shoe Covers. It seems as though most shoe covers are unisex.
Make sure you look for the recommendations for sizing in the Questions and Answers on Amazon. Below is the sizing chart from the Garneau website.
Here is a link to a men’s shoe conversion chart.
Here is a link to a men’s to women’s shoe conversion chart.
Hydration and extra accessories:
Hydrating in the winter is different because the water bottle in the cage of your bike can freeze. You will have to hydrate the same or even more in the cold temperatures. The best way to keep hydrated is to use a hydration pack, a backpack that holds water in a bladder. Fill the bladder with very hot water or sports drink. This will help keep you warm on your back. The insulated pack will keep the liquid from freezing. The tube can freeze, so you will want to keep it close to your body. A neoprene –covered tube can prevent freezing. To make sure the tube doesn’t freeze you can sip the warm liquid regularly throughout your ride. Also, look for a bag with a valve shut off. You want to choose the bag based on how much extra accessories you need to carry. Make sure it has enough room for gel packs, energy bars, and extra clothing. The best selling hydration pack on amazon is by Camden Gear.
This is where it gets tricky. What to wear as your base layer? The biggest challenge is not dressing for the cold but when you sweat in those clothes. Dressing for the cold is easy. The problem is getting too warm and controlling sweating. Sweating is what the body does to shed excess heat and the body will sweat more trying to cool down. The main judgment is to wear a wind-blocking jacket or not.
What to wear as your base layer?
The biggest challenge is not dressing for the cold but avoiding sweating in those clothes. Dressing for the cold is easy. The difficulty is getting too warm and controlling sweating. Sweating is what the body does to shed excess heat and the body will sweat more trying to cool down. The main j is to wear a wind-blocking jacket or not.
Wearing a wind-blocking jacket will restrict airflow. The breathable fabric you wear as your base layer allows air and sweat to pass through. The wind-breaking fabric blocks or impleads airflow. The flow of air is what carries excess moisture away from the skin as it evaporates. So, the wind-breaking jacket will trap the moisture you give off. Clothing under layers will get soaked thus making you cold. This will not be a problem for you if you do not sweat that much or your workout will be slow paced as to not perspire. Therefore, do not choose the traditional “wind-breaker” that does not allow any airflow, choose a jacket that is “wind-proof” and breathable. I recommend the 4ucycling Windproof Full Zip Wind Jacket. The jacket runs small so choose one size larger than your normal size.
The alternative is to wear layers of wicking clothes. For example, a sleeveless shirt for the base layer, then a thicker wicking shirt and on top of that a long sleeve breathable cycling jersey.
Wearing breathable layers will allow air to pass through to the skin, cooling it and carrying away the moisture. This way, when you perspire the moisture will evaporate and ensure that when you stop, you won’t be cold due to wet clothes. If anything, when you stop the air your clothing has trapped, will keep you warm. The heat you generated warms the trapped air close to your body. It is best to feel a little chill when starting off so when your riding starts generating warmth you will feel comfortable.
If you are a woman, make sure your sports bra wicks moisture. For the winter you may want to buy a long sports bra that covers your torso and is like a sleeveless shirt. They call them tri singlet. Make sure it has a built in bra. They sell these for men also, without the bra.
If you are a man, wear a sleeveless base layer; they are also called a tri singlet. Then wear a thick long sleeved wicking shirt with a breathable long- sleeve cycling jersey as I described above.
When you are going out for a ride in the cold temperatures, prepare a timed route that you know will not be that long or strenuous. You want to try out your clothing to find out what combinations are the most comfortable for you.