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  1. #1
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    Winter Dress. Not a Perfect Science?

    Since I am a newbie cyclist and definitely new to winter cycling, I am very intrigued by winter dress. I pretty much understand all of the basics and have appreciated advice from members here. However, what I am starting to pickup based on a few of my cool/ windy rides is that is very difficult to expect perfect comfort in cold weather regardless of what you do.

    So far each time I have ridden in cooler weather (30's & 40's F) I have started off my ride being cold which is common advice. THe problem is that some times it takes a lot longer to warm up than others. Some rides I get home and think, "Wow I really nailed it that time, I was pretty comfy after the first 15 minutes." Other times I have ended up too hot (sweaty). Most of the time so far I have errored on the side of underdress.

    My question is, how much comfort should a person reasonably expect riding a bike in freezing to below freezing temperatures. IOW, is a person every going to get good enough at figuring out winter dress and conditions that he is very rarely uncomfortable during a ride? Or is this too much to expect???

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    You get better at it. I found the key was to have some fine tuning ability, so I use a sleeveless lightweight woolen jumper. You can also get hi tech sleeveless "gillets". These can take you down a few extra degrees.
    If you wear a gillet over your windproof layer, you can de-layer without having to remove your outer windproof, which makes it much easier and quicker.

  3. #3
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    Layering- that's always the key.

    Check out the other threads about layering- using arm and leg warmers, etc. They all have good advice on how to do this.

    If you layer correctly, you can strip down the layers as you become hotter. If you don't become hot, you don't have to take off the extra layers. If you do become hot, you can slowly strip down your layers as you continue sweating.

    Check out the other threads- they will give you the best advice on how to do this for maximum comfort.

    Koffee

  4. #4
    Senior Member Ebbtide's Avatar
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    Yes, layers!

    I start off my rides toasty warm and undress as needed (It takes about ten miles for me to get warm, no logic behind starting off cold IMO).

  5. #5
    Senior Member trmcgeehan's Avatar
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    Winter cycling wear

    I am a low budget cyclist, and can't afford the latest expensive winter cycling wear. I have had good luck with layers of clothes, which enable me to bike in weather down to 20 degrees. I wear an undershirt, a long sleeve t-shirt, a sweat shirt, a wool button up shirt, and finally, a cheap hooded wool jacket that zips up the front. Five layers is more than enough. If it gets too warm, I zip open the jacket. On really cold days, I wear a wool cap under my helmet, and sometimes a velcro attached face mask I bought from Bike Nashbar for $10. I look pretty wierd going down the road, but with the mask on, nobody knows who I am. I also wear warm winter gloves I bought at a discount house. I havn't needed to wear longjohns for my legs (jeans will do), but you do need a warm pair of socks. There's another benefit to this. If you fall, you probably won't be hurt. All those layers will protect you from road scrapes.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by trmcgeehan
    I am a low budget cyclist, and can't afford the latest expensive winter cycling wear. I have had good luck with layers of clothes, which enable me to bike in weather down to 20 degrees. I wear an undershirt, a long sleeve t-shirt, a sweat shirt, a wool button up shirt, and finally, a cheap hooded wool jacket that zips up the front. Five layers is more than enough. If it gets too warm, I zip open the jacket. On really cold days, I wear a wool cap under my helmet, and sometimes a velcro attached face mask I bought from Bike Nashbar for $10. I look pretty wierd going down the road, but with the mask on, nobody knows who I am. I also wear warm winter gloves I bought at a discount house. I havn't needed to wear longjohns for my legs (jeans will do), but you do need a warm pair of socks. There's another benefit to this. If you fall, you probably won't be hurt. All those layers will protect you from road scrapes.
    Almost all the wrong stuff.Layering is the way to go but use the right cycling cloths.You dont have to spend a bunch.2 long sleeve jerseys,2 long sleeve base layer and a sleeveless light jacket/wind breaker all bought together,maybe 125 bucks.Gota look for sales.

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    Quote Originally Posted by trmcgeehan
    I am a low budget cyclist, and can't afford the latest expensive winter cycling wear. I have had good luck with layers of clothes, which enable me to bike in weather down to 20 degrees. I wear an undershirt, a long sleeve t-shirt, a sweat shirt, a wool button up shirt, and finally, a cheap hooded wool jacket that zips up the front. Five layers is more than enough. If it gets too warm, I zip open the jacket. On really cold days, I wear a wool cap under my helmet, and sometimes a velcro attached face mask I bought from Bike Nashbar for $10. I look pretty wierd going down the road, but with the mask on, nobody knows who I am. I also wear warm winter gloves I bought at a discount house. I havn't needed to wear longjohns for my legs (jeans will do), but you do need a warm pair of socks. There's another benefit to this. If you fall, you probably won't be hurt. All those layers will protect you from road scrapes.
    While I am not a low-budget cyclist, I am cheap! I hate to buy cycling specific winter clothing when I have a drawer full of garmets I wore for umpiring in the early spring and during fall baseball. Among my Nike, Russell, and Nike sweat wicking shirts bought on sale I have McDavid Interawear which I purchased 12 years ago.

    When I really need or want something, I will splurge, but it is often an impulse buy. Like my Wind-Stopper Gore-Tex vest. I bought that in a place called Hudson Trail Outfitters. Had I searched it out on the web at Nashbar, Colorado Cyclist, et al, I probably would have not bought it because of the $125 price tag.

    I am a tacticle type; if I can't touch it and it costs more than $50, I will usually pass it by!
    "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrekRider
    While I am not a low-budget cyclist, I am cheap! I hate to buy cycling specific winter clothing when I have a drawer full of garmets I wore for umpiring in the early spring and during fall baseball. Among my Nike, Russell, and Nike sweat wicking shirts bought on sale I have McDavid Interawear which I purchased 12 years ago.

    When I really need or want something, I will splurge, but it is often an impulse buy. Like my Wind-Stopper Gore-Tex vest. I bought that in a place called Hudson Trail Outfitters. Had I searched it out on the web at Nashbar, Colorado Cyclist, et al, I probably would have not bought it because of the $125 price tag.

    I am a tacticle type; if I can't touch it and it costs more than $50, I will usually pass it by!
    Unless you have a impulse.

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    You'd be surprised at the good poly and fleece stuff I've picked up at discount places like MC Sporting Goods, and clearance houses like Marshall's or Target, get there at the right time and you can get good stuff real cheap. The stuff isn't cycling specific, but it works well.
    1 Chainring; $35, 1 Cog; $25, 14 Gears; Priceless.

  10. #10
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    Winter bicycling

    I pull on two sweat pants two light fall jackets a toque neck tube ski mitts and Insulated boots and that Is what I cycle In all winter with temps under -10
    hopefully warmer.If there Is no wind that sure helps to keep the cold from biting?

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    When it gets REALLY cold, I tend to put on almost everything in my closet!

    During an especially cold spell last winter before it snowed, the temperature was about 40 degrees and there was a chilly wind blowing. I wore two pair of socks, the outer one made from Smart-Wool; Interwear leggings; knee warmers; sweat pants; and my rain suit pants. On top, I had a long-sleeved Interwear turtle neck, a fleece-lined pull over wind-breaker; my Wind Stopper vest; heavy winter cycling gloves (another impulse buy!); and my rain suit jacket. I also wore a Wind Stopper balaclava.

    I was still cold for the first 30 minutes, absolutely perfect for the next hour, and sweating for the last 30 minutes.

    I probably weighted an extra 25 lbs because of all the gear I was wearing and my average speed was down almost 1 mph, but I was still out riding and not sitting the couch!

    Moral of the story from your old Uncle TrekRider; headwinds and hills, even in the icy cold of November, are better than couches and clickers!
    "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

  12. #12
    Senior Member Ebbtide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shokhead
    Almost all the wrong stuff.Layering is the way to go but use the right cycling cloths.You dont have to spend a bunch.2 long sleeve jerseys,2 long sleeve base layer and a sleeveless light jacket/wind breaker all bought together,maybe 125 bucks.Gota look for sales.

    125 might get you far in Lakewood, California. In the snowy Mid West and plain States you can't really go for looks when you really should be wearing a parka. I guess "winter dress" is relative.



    ehenz

  13. #13
    A Heart Needs a Home Rich Clark's Avatar
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    There are a lot of variables.

    People vary. Those with more body fat seem not to get as cold.

    Fabrics matter a lot. Wear cotton and get it wet with sweat and you'll never get warm.

    How you ride matters. Ride hard and you stay warmer.

    Spend 60 seconds standing at a red light in sub-freezing temperatures in a 20mph wind and whatever you're wearing will be insufficient.

    So everybody ends up experimenting and finding the combinations that work for their physiques, their riding styles, their environments.

    Personally, layering with lightweight synthetics works best. Even in sub-freezing weather, a thin coolmax base layer, a long-sleeve jersey, a fleece jersey, and a shell do the job of keeping my torso warm (core temperature being a major part of the battle). My biggest issue personally is feet and hands, and it's a struggle. Even double wool socks under my shoes and lined booties over them don't completely do the trick, nor do my Trek Wooly Mammoth gloves with extra glove liners.

    I have to keep a set of winter outerwear at work, though. What I wear cycling is totally inadequate for just walking around at lunchtime if it's freezing outside.

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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ehenz
    125 might get you far in Lakewood, California. In the snowy Mid West and plain States you can't really go for looks when you really should be wearing a parka. I guess "winter dress" is relative.



    ehenz
    Yep.Really cold here would be low to mid 30's and thats at night.Mid to high 50's would be cold here as somewhere else it could be a heat wave.LOL

  15. #15
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    This will be my second season of winter riding. I find the real trick is moisture control when temeratures are below freezing. When ice starts forming under your wind barrier it gets a little wierd. The base layer is the most important so your skin doesn't freeze. After that, the layering does keep you warm. The trick is getting rid of moisture. It seems to be a balancing act of not letting yourself sweat to much and some type of venting to allow the moisture to escape. I find a wool scarf as a face wrap works, but again you have mositure problems around the mouth with freezing temps. Your right...not a perfect science, but an art. The feet are another story...wool and a wind barrier are essential.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger
    However, what I am starting to pickup based on a few of my cool/ windy rides is that is very difficult to expect perfect comfort in cold weather regardless of what you do.

    IOW, is a person every going to get good enough at figuring out winter dress and conditions that he is very rarely uncomfortable during a ride? Or is this too much to expect???
    Look on the bright side. You've already got more experience than most people at winter riding, as your post indicates.

    I made a few notes for myself over the past few winters: temperature, wind, what I wore, and how I felt (that's in dry weather. In the wet or heavy snow, on comes the rain gear no matter what.) Now I have a set regimen by temperature. It works pretty well; but still, it's not perfect.

    I feel much colder at the beginning of the winter season for a given temperature than later. The first 30F ride feels bone chilling. Later, riding near 0F is downright easy.

    No matter what you do, you can't make the cold weather completely comfortable. No clothing is like the summertime. There's always some bitter wind that gets in your waistline in the back. Your feet start to get numb. Or your teeth hurt. But dressing so that you start out cold, but end up warm enough to notice only the bracing wind on your face or your feet, means you're planning well.

    I actually like the way the cold makes bike riding an adventure. There are the amazed looks you get from drivers. And sometimes, at night, it's as if you've got the whole world to yourself. Everything white with snow, dazzling stars against a frigid black sky, and near perfect quiet. Wow.

  17. #17
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    It took me a little while, and I still make mistakes sometimes, but generally I think I've got it.

    The worst temperature range I find is from a little below freezing to a little above freezing. I find I tend to overdress and then overheat. Once it starts to get quite cold, it's pretty easy, and of course warmer temps are easy too.

  18. #18
    Senior Member landrover's Avatar
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    my setup has remained the same whether its 16 degree weather or 35 degree weather...Performance tights,(Gill outer pants when its bone cold), performance hooded jersey, poly-pro outershell and an old Nike windbreaker.

    Thats it..

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