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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 12-20-08, 06:11 AM   #1
Dangerous Dave
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Am I dressing too light?

Average Winter Temps where I live:
November: High=53, Low=42
December: High=48, Low=38
January: High=47, Low=37
February: High=47, Low=36
March: High=52, Low=40
I have a 1.5 mile ride into school. I carry a backpack, which gets sweaty and tend to move quite fast. I tend to leave most mornings in jeans, t-shirt, hoodie, gloves and add a hat when it's below 35. Parents say I should be wearing a coat as well, and get uptight as I don't put on a jacket to leave the house. This seems silly to me, as by the afternoon ride home, even the hoodie can get quite sweaty. I do wear a very lightweight raincoat over the top for moderate/ heavy rain, but loathe to as I get too hot, so I skip it for drizzle/ light rain. I need the hoodie as some of the classrooms are chilly, and so prefer it over a coat. I also like to be in shorts if I know I'll have to ride home in over 55, unless it's <40 in the morning. I do dress better than that for my longer distance speed training rides. My normal dress code for that is:
>60=lycra shorts +cotton t shirt (I want my t shirt to be sweat soaked and so cool me off)
50-60=lycra shorts+poly shirt
40-50=lycra long trousers+poly shirt+gloves
30-40=lycra long trousers+poly shirt+raincoat+gloves+headband (to protect my ears)
20-30=lycra long trousers+poly shirt+raincoat+double up on socks and gloves+hat
The lowest temperature I have had to ride in ever is 21, so I don't have a range for that. In fact, i only find myself riding in under 30, a few time a month and since I do my speed training in the afternoon, it's usually at least in the 30's.
How does all this compare with what you're wearing. My mum goes crazy to find out I'm wearing only a short sleeved top and thin waterproof jacket on my torso on a 35 degree ride.
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Old 12-20-08, 06:18 AM   #2
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Just a 1.5 mile ride makes the trip interesting.
Takes me 2.5 miles to warm up.
Try different layers if your having a problem.
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Old 12-20-08, 07:43 AM   #3
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If you're comfortable, then you're dressing right. Mum's being Mum, and she doesn't realize how you warm up on the bike. Plus, 1.5 mi. isn't going to leave you out for very long. One idea might be to get a light nylon shell jacket to wear as a top layer, to keep the wind out and let Mum see you've got layers on, then you can stuff it in the backpack later. I wonder too if you might be better with a light wool sweater, which will breathe moisture out and stay warm,versus the hoodie,which I suppose is cotton and holds moisture. That's all I can think of right now.
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Old 12-20-08, 08:25 AM   #4
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Its more than I wear on 1-2 hour rides at those temps.

Everyone has there own comfort level. You do have to be cautious when it is cold in case there is some sort of mechanical failure or the temps drop fast you do not want to get hypothermia.
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Old 12-20-08, 10:38 AM   #5
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For a ride of 1.5 miles, starting and ending indoors, you can get by easily with your current list of clothing. Only thing I would add would be some light rain pants to keep your jeans from being getting totally soaked and then having to sit in class like that for hours after a really wet ride. I'm always amazed how quickly I get wet right through during a heavy rain, if I don't have rain gear.

For longer rides, you'll want clothing that will be comfortable during long stretches of bad weather, and it sounds like you've got that covered. There was a time when I would go outside in anything. There was one camping trip where I woke up to find my pants so frozen I had to punch them into shape with my fists to get them on, and thought nothing of it.

Last edited by rnorris; 12-20-08 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 12-20-08, 11:34 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dangerous Dave View Post
Average Winter Temps where I live:
November: High=53, Low=42
December: High=48, Low=38
January: High=47, Low=37
February: High=47, Low=36
March: High=52, Low=40
I have a 1.5 mile ride into school. I carry a backpack, which gets sweaty and tend to move quite fast. I tend to leave most mornings in jeans, t-shirt, hoodie, gloves and add a hat when it's below 35. Parents say I should be wearing a coat as well, and get uptight as I don't put on a jacket to leave the house. This seems silly to me, as by the afternoon ride home, even the hoodie can get quite sweaty. I do wear a very lightweight raincoat over the top for moderate/ heavy rain, but loathe to as I get too hot, so I skip it for drizzle/ light rain. I need the hoodie as some of the classrooms are chilly, and so prefer it over a coat. I also like to be in shorts if I know I'll have to ride home in over 55, unless it's <40 in the morning. I do dress better than that for my longer distance speed training rides. My normal dress code for that is:
>60=lycra shorts +cotton t shirt (I want my t shirt to be sweat soaked and so cool me off)
50-60=lycra shorts+poly shirt
40-50=lycra long trousers+poly shirt+gloves
30-40=lycra long trousers+poly shirt+raincoat+gloves+headband (to protect my ears)
20-30=lycra long trousers+poly shirt+raincoat+double up on socks and gloves+hat
The lowest temperature I have had to ride in ever is 21, so I don't have a range for that. In fact, i only find myself riding in under 30, a few time a month and since I do my speed training in the afternoon, it's usually at least in the 30's.
How does all this compare with what you're wearing. My mum goes crazy to find out I'm wearing only a short sleeved top and thin waterproof jacket on my torso on a 35 degree ride.
Seems to me that your system is good for what you are doing. If you have a rain jacket/wind breaker and a fleece jacket in your pack for emergencies that should be good and placate your parents. For 1.5 mile ride at a fast pace you will get to your destination before you get cold. For longer rides you would need more. But for a short ride to school it is better to be kind of cold on the bike and get to school not as sweaty. You are not on the bike long enough for your core temperature to drop much with a 1.5 mile ride. But it would be wise to have a fleece jacket and wind/rain shell in your pack since your bike could break in a bad storm and you would have to walk your bike to school or back home. Also the fleece jacket can do double duty so you won't need to take a hoodie to wear in the cool classrooms.

You might consider wearing a pair of long polyester basketball shorts under some nylon or polyester cargo pants for your ride. Then when you get to school take off the cargo pants and wear the shorts during the day. You can even wear a pair of cycling shorts under the basketball shorts.

You could leave with a poly shirt either long or short sleeve depending on the temperature with the wind/rain jacket over the top and have only the fleece jacket in your pack. If you get in a cold spell put on the fleece jacket under your shell. Otherwise wear it in the classroom as it's really breathable. Make sure to use a zippered kind so you can unzip if you get too hot.

Last edited by Hezz; 12-20-08 at 11:50 AM.
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Old 12-20-08, 12:52 PM   #7
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Thanks for the advice for that guys. I am finding that a lot of mornings I am already feeling slightly on the warm side when I get there, so suspect if anything my core temperature would rise if I continued to ride for any length of time, especially in the upper 40's afternoons. I have discussed this with my parents and agreed on just wearing the hoodie, along with the light raincoat for the wetter mornings. Should I still be wearing waterproofs in drizzle light rain? I find a hoodie doesn't tend to soak through in the 7-8 minutes of the misty, drizzly type if I'm out in it. I save waterproof trousers for exceptionally wet days. If it's showers (which are heavier than steady rain), I tend to dodge the drops as much as possible. I do also check the weather forecast every day. As for breaking, down 1.5 miles can be walked in 20-25 minutes and beng a fast walker, I can work up a decent heat walking dressed as detailed. If I'm cold walking, I don't walk, I run. I then repair the bike when I get home.
For more than 55 degrees, I feel hot to the point of dizziness if I'm expected to ride wearing anything more than shorts and t shirt for anything length of time, especially if it is humid. Hence why I will ride in shorts and a hoodie when the high is over 55, so I stay warm on the cooler 40-45 degree morning and also have that extra layer to wear in class. I still keep taking the sweatshirt all summer because I might need it in the air con, but I refuse to actually cycle with it on for anything over 50 degrees.
As for the longer rides, I do take extra layers in case of breakdown, normally a wool sweater and a fleece or hoodie. On warmer days, I would carry just one of these. I also carry waterproof coat and trousers even on warm days because if I break down and it's raining it won't feel so warm. In anything under 40, I wear gore-tex as a second layer, so rain isn't a problem. If it's 40-55 and raining, I will also wear the gore-tex, trying to vent as much as possible. Above 55 with rain, I just let my shorts and t shirt get wet. It keeps me cool, and smells a lot nicer than sweat, as well as not getting me dehydrated and/or leeching the body of essential minerals.
Will the shorts/ hoodie combo do me for just riding to school, during the spring/ early summer? Temps where I live:
March: High=52, Low=39
April: High=56, Low=42
May: High=63, Low=48.
June: High=67, Low=52 (yes we do get cool summers where I live)
By the time I ride in, it is usually above the "low"
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Old 12-20-08, 08:03 PM   #8
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Tell your mumsie to lighten up and that you really can't get sick from being a little underdressed. Sounds to me like you're dressing just right for the temps you're riding in. The best rule of thumb is to wear layers. I always avoid heavy jackets or anything thick because it weighs me down and can overheat me. I wear a couple of light-weight jackets when it's really cold (waterproof outerlayer and fleecie on the inside) and several shirts. Also, everyone has different sweating thresholds - I tend to be very cold-blooded so it's not uncommon for me to be wearing three or four shirts in addition to a couple of outer-layers on very cold days. Guys tend to be a little more warm-blooded and can tolerate cold better than us ladies. Just make sure that the layer closest to your skin is NOT cotton (i.e, a quick-dry synthetic shirt). That should help with the sweating.

As for your mum, well, she's just being a good mum.
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Old 12-20-08, 08:29 PM   #9
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I haven't been doing this lately, but I think I'll start again. I often get out in the cold and discover I'm dressed a little lightly. Especially if there's a strong headwind. I do pay attention to wind chill forecasts, but it is occasionally hard to dial in just right with clothing.

Solution: carry an extra pannier with one extra layer for riding. As well, carry a heavier fleece jacket and extra mittens, cap just in case of a breakdown or a passing car nails you with water. The additional weight is less than 2 pounds and worth it as an insurance.
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Old 12-22-08, 04:36 AM   #10
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Thanks for the advice guys. I do take plenty of clothing for my long rides, though to bog myself down for a distance I could run in 10-15 mins if the worst cames to the worst does seem OTT along with all the school books.
As for what to wear to school, I like to wear what's comfortable to wear during the day as well as fitting in with all of my freinds, which is basically a hoodie with jeans or cargo shorts (if it's sunny and reasonably warm). When we're running round kicking a ball at break time, the hoodie usually comes off.
I also like stuff that's easy to move in.
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