Okay, I said I'd post some articles on winter training, and training in general. I think this subject is so important though, I should say a little something about it before I go into real training issues.
Part 1 – Dressing for Cold Cycling
Lets face it; cold weather is coming, if it is not here already. Before we climb on our bikes in the crisp morning air, we need to check on how we dress first. Dressing properly is the key to staying warm, comfortable, and loose on a fall or winter ride.
On the bike, dressing in layers is the solution to the winter clothing dilemma. Depending on the temperature, the number of layers can easily be adjusted. Take some time in experimenting with different kind of materials and weights of clothing. See just how much you need to stay comfortable.
Here are some good suggestions as to what will work:
Base Layer: Go with a medium weight short or long sleeve undershirt. Do not wear a cotton undershirt, because even though it is cold, you will still sweat. Cotton will become wet, and act like a sponge, which will make you colder than you already are.
Mid Layer: A decent short sleeve lycra jersey is enough for this layer. Do not wear something too big and puffy, or you will feel like an Eskimo when you saddle up.
Top Layer: If the temperature is low enough, invest in a good cycling jacket. Gortex is a great material for this layer. Or, if you are more of an old school rider, find a high quality wool jersey. If the temperature is not quite low enough for a full on jacket, try a windbreaker vest. These are fairly inexpensive, and will stop the wind from reaching your chest more than if you went without one.
Bottoms: If the temperature is low enough, you may want to purchase a pair of tights. Again, Gortex is very warm, but the temperature will probably have to be very low for you to wear this type of material on your legs. Try a pair of lycra tights with a fleece style lining. If the temperature is not all that cold, wear a pair of regular lycra shorts and match them with a pair of leg or knee warmers.
Feet: Buy a good pair of booties. Neoprene booties are your best bet to keeping your feet warm and comfortable. You can wear all the wool socks you want, but booties will do the trick.
Hands: Buy a thick pair of long fingered gloves. Gortex is a good material, but not the only one. Try a couple pair on. See what fits well and feels warm by just wearing them indoors. If they are hot indoors, they will be warm outdoors.
Head: Underneath your helmet, you need something thin, if the temperature is low enough. If you get something thick, you will overheat and you probably won’t feel that great. Try a type of ear warmer. Try it on with your helmet, and see how it feels. You probably do not need a full head or face covering unless the temperature is very low.
As a rule of thumb most cold weather cyclists go by, you should not be warm at the beginning of a ride. You should have a slight chill at the beginning, so at the end, your body temperature is not reaching the nuclear point.
Experiment with different materials and numbers of layers until you find something you like. Before you can start training, you need to be comfortable and ready to go.
Next article to follow shortly…