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Old 12-06-08, 03:59 PM   #1
Jet Travis
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And Speaking of Cold Weather...

...Anyone got tips for staying warm on the bike? My riding partner had to pack it in after about 10 miles today with temps in the high 30s. She was dressed in the usual layers (maybe not enough) with a windbreaker shell and even tried those old-timey chemical hand/feet warmers. We were riding on gravel roads with MTBs to keep the wind chill down. I would have kept going, but I was a little chilly myself. Feet and hands were the deciding factors.
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Old 12-06-08, 04:22 PM   #2
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Neoprene booties, mittens -not gloves
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Old 12-06-08, 05:14 PM   #3
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Here in Seattle it does not get as cold as elsewhere - my coldest commute last year was 25 degrees - but we have lots of days where it is 36 to 38 degrees and raining. So "cold rain" is the major winter challenge.

I wear full-finger Specialized BG gloves down to about 30 degrees. However, they aren't quite as waterproof gloves in the mountaineering department of REI the other night (I forget the brand) and will be trying them the next day I commute in the rain. Below 30 degrees I wear some big thick winter cycling gloves from Performance. They have kept me comfortable down to about 15 degrees.

On my feet I am a big believer in Specialized BG Defroster boots. If you ride in the cold and rain a lot it's worth owning dedicated winter shoes, IMHO. Much easier than dealing with booties. If it's really cold I'll wear two pairs of socks (one thick, one thin).

On legs and top I just layer up with a wide variety of biking and ski gear until I'm warm. Typical winter commute I would wear a synthetic undershirt, a long-sleeved wool bike jersey or mountain bike jersey, and then my rain jacket on top. If it's really cold I'll wear a fleece top or a ski top under my bike jacket. On my legs I wear regular bike tights and if it's really cold I will throw some regular running or exercise tights over the top of my bike tights.

My best jacket is a new-this-fall Showers Pass Elite 2.0 jacket. It is as wonderful as everyone says it is, especially in the rain.


To me, riding in cold weather is like arithmetic - I just look at how many degrees it is below 45 degrees and start adding layers until I'm toasty. I hate to be cold, so I usually leave the house with too much stuff on and then peel off as I warm up.

Last edited by BengeBoy; 12-06-08 at 06:15 PM.
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Old 12-06-08, 05:18 PM   #4
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Stay inside. Really. On a trainer.

I know that's no substitute for the real thing, but I can't stand being cold on the bike, which isn't always the same as riding in the cold. Sometimes you warm up and get comfy, but other times the cold goes right through you.
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Old 12-06-08, 05:28 PM   #5
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Our cold is your warm snap, but when you're cold you're cold. I'm wearing PI Cyclone gloves, with a wind-blocker material on the top. My hands actually sweat in those gloves. This year I'm trying wool; I have SmartWool socks and toe covers. Feet occasionally get cold. (They took nearly two hours inside my Ugg slippers to warm up after today's ride.) I have wool knickers and a wool jersey that works well as a base layer as well as an outer layer, depending on the degree of chill.

My coldest ride to date was today: At 8:30 it was 45* with thick, low fog. By mile 30 I was warm except for my toes and face. I'm going to get a balaclava to keep the chill off my neck and protect my face.
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Old 12-06-08, 05:47 PM   #6
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I always wear two hi tech undergarments, one sleeveless, a woolen turtleneck pullover, then a heavy winterbikeshirt, then a wind breaker.If is real cold[below 30 for me] I ditch the long bike pants and put on an old pair of wool over pants over my bike shorts.These were made in the mid 80s and have a windbreaker front and are very warm. I have a woolen bike hat that fits under my helmet. I have an old pair of full bike gloves that keep my hands warm. I have an oversized pair of bike shoes that I put over heavier socks followed by booties.I also put a scarf around my lower face.

I try to stay out of heavy winds ride at a steady pace and will not do hills as I dont like to break out in a sweat which is hard to recover from.

For all this my feet still get cold within an hour so I try to limit my ride to no more than 1 1/2 hours.
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Old 12-06-08, 06:40 PM   #7
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Downhill ski gloves. If you are a skiier, they are free because you already have them. Normal footwear and platforms, rather than clipless is a good idea. Totes shoe covers are a good idea for 20 F and below, or in the wet. I rode from work to a restaurant to dinner last night and arived with gloves off and coat completely unbuttoned - but I really needed the gloves and coat fot the first four miles. Once your hands chill, they won't warm up.

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Old 12-06-08, 07:08 PM   #8
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My hands are what get cold first. For some reason the gloves I used for winter commuting a few years ago (no, they aren't worn out) don't do the job now. Advancing years = poorer circulation = cold extremities?

So, how does everyone keep their hands warm and still have the finger movement to brake and shift?
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Old 12-06-08, 08:19 PM   #9
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So, how does everyone keep their hands warm and still have the finger movement to brake and shift? (moosemitts)AKA-pogies
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Old 12-06-08, 08:28 PM   #10
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Below freezing, I pretty much give up on cycling clothing except maybe as base layers. Polarfleece and windsuits are your friends. I wear insulated work boots with wool or coolmax socks, with platform pedals. If you have a motorcycle helmet with a face shield, that's good too; or at least tape off the front-facing vents in your helmet. Add a good balaclava and either a pair of mittens or some lobster gloves. 5-fingered gloves are a no-no in real cold weather.
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Old 12-06-08, 08:30 PM   #11
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So, how does everyone keep their hands warm and still have the finger movement to brake and shift? (moosemitts)AKA-pogies
Most of my bikes have bar end shifters. They are easy to use with bulky gloves.
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Old 12-07-08, 01:11 AM   #12
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Keeping the body warm is just layers. You may not be able to move comfortably but it does work.

Hands and feet- Definitely a time for layers- it used to be for me- but I got Sealskinz socks first of all and they are mainly for water proofing- but they are warm. Then I got the gloves and have to admit that they do need a little extra for cold protection. Then I got a pair of overshoes for the wet as the feet were still getting damp and they really do work. Warm feet to start off with and the overshoes do keep the wind and wet out of the shoes and socks.

Face and most definitely a Ski mask. Mine is just like a warm Balaclava but also has water resistance built in. Just have a problem with keeping the nose warm occasionally but if it is that cold- I slow down.

But best way is training. Start off with a gentle ride to the cafe about 5 miles away. Plenty of sitting there- coffee and PIE and then ride back. As you get more used to it- Just find more cafes for the longer rides.
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Old 12-07-08, 09:43 AM   #13
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There was great posting yesterday on the Touring thread by Machka on Winter Touring. Excellent for all cyclist who are winter riding
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Old 12-07-08, 11:39 AM   #14
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Acclimatization is one of the keys for me.

Being warm in winter riding means accepting being cold in October riding. As a result of letting myself be cold in October, I was roasting on yesterday's 21F commute.

I wore a lightweight wicking T under a regular cotton T, (both long-sleeved) covered with an ordinary, uninsulated windbreaker. Shorts and tights on the bottom. My Lake Winter Cycling boots and double-gloved--Cannondale Windfronts over some long-fingered summer-weight cycling gloves from Specialized.

Arriving at the diner 59 minutes after starting out, I found I'd sweat through my shirts. This was on flat asphalt with a 12 MPH wind. Nothing particularly strenuous.

I'm in no way some sort of Eskimo-descended, cold-blooded, winter lover. I can't stand winter. I keep my apartment at 75 because I get chilled below 72.

And yet, I'm able to acclimate to our winter temps and ride comfortably in them. I just start in October so that by December, it's old news.
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Old 12-07-08, 12:37 PM   #15
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I remember a lady posting about riding in -20 or -40 F. I think it was Makala. She gave some links to her tips on cold weather riding. I can't imagine riding in those temps.
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Old 12-07-08, 01:06 PM   #16
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I have real issues with my hands and feet in the cold. Yesterday I bought a pair of ski/snow gloves. I rode with them this morning along with liners and chemical warmers. It was wonderful.
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Old 12-07-08, 04:50 PM   #17
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This afternoons commute temp was in the upper teens with 35+ mph wind gusts. To keep warm I drove my Chevy!!!!!

For winter rides I don't wear cycling clothes, I wear what I'ld wear to shovel the driveway in. It may not be stylish but it works for me.

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Old 12-07-08, 05:23 PM   #18
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I wear what I'd wear to shovel the driveway in.
I'm trying to imagine you dressed as a Chevy pickup with a plow.

Then again, I rent. Snow is the maintenance guy's problem. And he uses a Chevy.

I've gone the other direction. In my first winter, I wore regular clothes, since that was all I had. It was okay, but definitely sub-prime. Wind and wet were big problems. Plus jeans bunching at the crotch and binding at the knee.

Last year I tried winter cycling gear, since I liked summer cycling gear after trying it. I went by half-measures and had to supplement with regular clothes in the deep winter. I found there's a limit to cycling comfort when layering. Cheap tights, cheap baselayers and cheap knee warmers add up to mucho knee binding and a significant decrease in cadence.

However, last year I nailed hands and feet by double-gloving as described above (and I can still operate my STI levers with ease) and the Lake winter cycling boots. The double-gloving works well for me down to the lower teens. Then I switch to lobster gloves. I haven't yet found a lower limit for the boots.

This year, I bought bib tights for two temperature ranges. Thus far I'm delighted with both pairs. Contoured or articulated knees and windfront materials are well worth the extra money. As are bibs, (although I'm probably preaching to the choir on that one).

I have one pair that's too warm to wear above freezing. The coldest I've worn them so far was yesterday's 21F. They were still a smidge too warm. I'm guessing I won't have to layer anything under them to the single digits.
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Old 12-07-08, 06:14 PM   #19
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I tried a trick today that I read about in Eddie Bs book 20 + years ago. I put ben gay on my feet then I put a thin pair of socks on followed by more bengay on that sock followed by a pair of hi tech winter bike socks. It helped but my feet still got cold after an hour or so.Funny thing is now 7 hours later and after a shower I can still feel the bengay in my toes.
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Old 12-07-08, 08:36 PM   #20
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I'm trying to imagine you dressed as a Chevy pickup with a plow.

Hee hee.... think Norman Rockwell, wood handled snow shovel, big warm boots, heavy winter coat, thick gloves. There you go, you've got it now.
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Old 12-08-08, 06:38 AM   #21
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Keeping hands and feet warm is the key for me. I get by with Cannondale long fingered gloves (marked 3 season, but OK down to 20F or even the mid teens in a pinch or with thin liners). Neoprene shoe covers over my Sidi Bullets work fine down to 20F even though they have a lot of mesh. I wear them down into the teens, but my feet do get cold if I do a long ride (20 miles or so is OK). I usually go with smartwool socks.

A lot depends of where you are as you adapt to local conditions. Since it is usually above 20 F here I am less inclined to ride when it is 0F and might run instead. If 0 were the norm I would probably tough it out to much lower temps, but when there are only a few really cold days a year I tend to be more wimpy.

As I said I understand that what you are used to is a huge factor. That said it still amazes me when Southern California folks talk about how cold it is at 45F. Even if it is raining 45F is still fingerless gloves, shorts, short sleeved jersey, with a shell jacket for me. Red Rider mentioned a balaclava for that weather, that just boggles my mind. I can't stand them until it is below 0F and a stiff breeze if even then.

I know that when I visit California, we often see folks bundled up like they were going on a polar expedition when we are in shorts and tee shirt. I would say that I am envious, but I would miss winter if I lived there. I guess they can always head to the mountains if they want a dose of winter.

Folks from really cold places probably think I am a cold weather wimp.
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Old 12-08-08, 09:34 AM   #22
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one of the issues is acclimation. your blood thickens more when you are cold for prolonged periods. so folks in the sunny CA zone are running on thinner blood than you eskimos up in the northern latitudes (or is that attitudes). which is fine but when one moves from one locale to the other with that built-in advantage or disadvantage as the case may be you will notice differences.
So what works in one place may not translate well for other zones. Me? I just add layers. Besides one more reason to visit REI... sort of N+1.
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Old 12-08-08, 09:44 AM   #23
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I am a little younger than you all and live in a place where temps in the high 30's are still considered short weather...

But the basics to staying warm remain the same.

You need a wicking base layer, insulating layer(s), and a windproof shell and need to take care of your head, hands and feet as this is where heat loss is the most pronounced.

If you can't maintain an adequate core temp the blood flow to your extremities will be compromised and even with some really good gear I will often find that my hands do not warm up until 3-4 km into a ride if I start cold.

A good pre ride warm up helps.

Cotton is the devil's fabric... polys and wool are the way to go and I lean pretty strongly toward wool.

My friend rides all winter and wears boots that are rated to -60C as despite his excellent physical conditioning and expert level winter skills he suffers from poor circulation in his feet.

I have ridden in temps as low as - 43 F and with the right gear and the right bike it is not as brutal as it sounds...
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Old 12-08-08, 01:33 PM   #24
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Well, I got out for a nice couple of hours today - started at 40F and temp increased a bit (as did the wind - so I sort of stayed even).

Supposed to rain and snow today..

I can't believe they are predicting some rain in Colorado in the middle of December. That is unheard of.
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Old 12-08-08, 01:45 PM   #25
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Every Man Jack and Woman Jane of us comes equipped to deal with the environment in different ways.

YMMV, but I've found that layers (including layered gloves) with especial protection for feet and hands (and for that "other" extremity for half of us) is as good as it gets. If I haven't gotten cozy warm after 20 minutes of honest effort in the saddle, I take that as Fortuna's Unambiguous Sign that it's too damn cold to cycle and I take myself off to find a grandmother in need of a cup of coffee and polite company, which is I think Natures Own Remedy for the Ills of Winter as ever was.
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