The winter is often seen as the harshest time of year. Many people decide to put their bikes away for the season and revert back to other forms of transportation. However, it does not have to be this way. With a little knowledge and a few descent articles of clothing, you can continue to ride through the winter. In fact, I think that learning to do this is an essential part of cycling. There is no reason you should stop doing what you love just because the seasons are changing.
Let’s start from the beginning. The first thing I do is get dressed as I normally would. If I am going to work I put on my slacks, a shirt, and a tie. If I am running errands I put on a pair of jeans and a button down. Mind blowing.
Second, I add a layer to my outfit. This is usually a hooded sweatshirt or half-zip fleece. If it is really cold I will add a thermal shirt underneath the sweatshirt/fleece. For my legs, I put a pair of baggier jeans on over my slacks or I just wear the jeans and change when I arrive at my destination. The jeans are mainly used so that I do not ruin my pants with the dirt and grime that kicks up from the tires. If it is bitterly cold I will put on a pair of long spandex under my pants, but this is not usually needed. Your legs are constantly moving, which keeps the blood pumping. You will find that your legs stay pretty warm just from pedaling.
Next, I make sure to put on a nice pair of thick, wool socks. This is crucial because your feet remain still while you pedal. They can get really cold, really quick and this will ruin your experience for sure. So if you take anything away from this, let it be the warm socks. As long as I have them on, I continue to where my Vans. I have not had much of an issue with this even when the temperatures have been frigid. However, you can always slip on a pair of more insulated shoes if you are someone who gets cold easily.
I then make sure that my neck, head, and hands are sufficiently guarded from the cold. I wear a thick neck warmer (scarf would suffice), which covers my ears, face, and neck. I also where two pairs of gloves. I have a thin pair and a fleece shell that I slip over them. This has worked well for me. It keeps me warm, but also allows me to control the bike. I also make sure that my head is covered with a ski cap that fits under my helmet. Once all that is on, my eyes are all that are showing.
My final layers are a North Face fleece and a thin rain shell. Although this might seem minimal, I find myself rather warm and sometimes too warm. The rain shell traps in all my heat, which is perfect for the frigid temperatures.
So that is pretty much it. I have had no issues yet and have remained warm all winter. It is important to note that as you ride your body will warm up. So if you start your ride feeling cold, just give it a few minutes. I find that my torso and my legs stay very warm with the clothes I described above. I rarely worry about that. I am always sure to bundle up my head, feet, and face, as they are the most vulnerable. Again, these areas have been perfectly toasty all winter simply wearing what I described.
You probably have most of these clothes lying around. If not, it can all be bought for cheap at a thrift shop. So now that you know how to stay warm go out and ride.