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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 02-21-09, 09:56 PM   #1
marcoocram
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Tell Me How To Dress Faster

So, probably the most annonying thing about winter cycling in the moderate temperate zone in which I live is the extra amount of time I spend putting on layer after layer before leaving in the morning only to have to peal those layers off piece by piece once I arrive at work.

I fold and place in categories (legs/feet, torso, head covering) each item in the order in which I mean to put them on in the morning definitely helps, however, I'm still frustrated by the amount of time dressing and undressing.

I'm hoping someone can offer some advice. Anyone sell one of those dressing machines like on Wallace and Grommit? Those things look durned fun!
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Old 02-21-09, 11:28 PM   #2
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Perhaps you shouldn't fold your gear? Extra time unfolding and all.


In all honesty... getting dressed for winter riding always takes a long time.
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Old 02-22-09, 02:25 AM   #3
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Adjust your expectations so that the time it takes you to dress is no longer long.
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Old 02-22-09, 02:32 AM   #4
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What it takes me five minutes. I'd get up five minutes earlier. Lay your bike clothes out the night before.? I love my UnderArmour addition to my winter gear. I've not worn my winter Gore Tex jacket all winter. Usually , all I have to take off is my outer windproof vest as the day warms up and I am fine.
IF that does not work.You could purchase one of those 'butler robots,' promised us all- that will dress you. Just be sure their mechanical claws does not rip apart your Lycra.
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Old 02-22-09, 02:38 AM   #5
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I find that using over trousers with extra long zippers speeds things up quite a bit.
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Old 02-22-09, 08:13 AM   #6
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I bought a pair of winter cycling shoes and that really made a difference in my routines. Not having to put on neoprene booties makes for a much easier start. One more thing: Do not overdress, it is better to be a bit cold right at the start than to come to work overcooked.
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Old 02-22-09, 08:18 AM   #7
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I guess it all depends on what you're dressing in.

My winter gear goes on pretty quickly.

Assume as a summertime baseline: socks, shorts, jersey, shoes, cycling skullcap and gloves. (Helmet too.)

In winter I replace the jersey with a baselayer, add windproof, water-resistant, insulated bib tights over my shorts, and a second top layer--usually a long-sleeve t-shirt. My Lake winter cycling boots go on even faster than my three-season shoes. Jacket takes no time at all, and a winter skullcap or balaclava takes no more time than the summer-weight article they replace.

Gloves do take more time. I double-glove using a summer-weight long-finger cycling glove inside a pair of Cannondale Windfront gloves. I manage most of the time to get all the different Velcros (two pairs of gloves, the jacket sleeves, and my RoadID) stuck to one another. Takes a bit to get them sorted out after that. That's the only step that takes me significantly longer than in summer.

This gets me down to the lower teens (F). In the single-digits, I add knee-warmers under the tights, wear both a winter-weight cycling skullcap and a balaclava, and switch to lobster gloves, which go on faster than the double-gloves I wear in the "warmer" cold weather.

Above freezing to about 50F, I switch to non-insulated wind-front bib tights and delete the inner glove layer, and forgo the second top layer if I wear the jacket, or add arm-warmers under the two long-sleeve layers if I don't.

Edit: BTW, are you just starting now, or did you start in the autumn? If you're starting now, you'll no doubt need more layers than if you started by acclimating to the cold in the autumn. So there's another way to dress faster--ride straight through and allow you body to get acclimated to the cold so you need fewer layers.

Last edited by tsl; 02-22-09 at 08:28 AM.
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Old 02-22-09, 08:24 AM   #8
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I throw mine on the floor in the order I intend to put them on. After taking a hot shower and embrocating, I start picking up my clothes and put them on.

Btw, I have no wife... life, no...wife or life.
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Old 02-22-09, 12:27 PM   #9
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I throw mine on the floor in the order I intend to put them on.
Translation: Mine are still on the floor in the same order I took them off.
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Old 02-22-09, 01:08 PM   #10
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There's not a lot you can do to speed the process up besides making sure the entire kit is laid out the night before. I can layer up a lot faster that way than if I'm deciding to change things up and have to find a different pair of gloves or tights on the fly.
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Old 02-22-09, 01:53 PM   #11
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There's not a lot you can do to speed the process up besides making sure the entire kit is laid out the night before. I can layer up a lot faster that way than if I'm deciding to change things up and have to find a different pair of gloves or tights on the fly.
As a year round commuter in Boston I totally agree with the above. Another hassle factor is timing--getting to the bathroom just before leaving, but before being completely layered in; then being ready to immediately leave when dressed so you are not overheated in the house. I often put my outer jacket on in the vestibule of our building where it is cooler.

Finally, is the necessity of making sure the neck and wrist junctions are well sealed, and goggles and facemask adjusted for balance of protection versus fogging. (Radio volume and rearview mirror adjustments are always last minute things in any weather conditions but more difficult also in winter). I count all these factors into the hassle of dressing for winter riding.

PS:

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I throw mine on the floor in the order I intend to put them on. After taking a hot shower and embrocating, I start picking up my clothes and put them on.
Btw, I have no wife... life, no...wife or life.
When I read the reply, my first thought was "embrocating," was similar to what I do (not after a hot shower though), but just mess around and procrastinate until I get up the gumption to dress. It really means to rub with lotion. LOL.
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Old 02-22-09, 02:26 PM   #12
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So, probably the most annonying thing about winter cycling in the moderate temperate zone in which I live is the extra amount of time I spend putting on layer after layer before leaving in the morning only to have to peal those layers off piece by piece once I arrive at work.

I fold and place in categories (legs/feet, torso, head covering) each item in the order in which I mean to put them on in the morning definitely helps, however, I'm still frustrated by the amount of time dressing and undressing.

I'm hoping someone can offer some advice. Anyone sell one of those dressing machines like on Wallace and Grommit? Those things look durned fun!
This is the thing I hate the most about winter riding. But I have found that winter cycling boots save a lot of time. It can be hard to put all those layers on the feet. I used to put on neoprene socks, then wool socks, then shoes , then neoprene overboot. What a pain. I have a rule that I never use more than three layers. If I need more warmth I just thicken up the layers. Or use a warmer combination. This keeps you from getting too extreme in taking time to get dressed. But is still slower than I would like.

I think tsl's method might be the best for limiting the amount of items that you have to put on. So you need one pair of heavy winter riding bibs and some winter cycling shoes. One pair of thick wool socks is all you need with the winter cycling boots.

Last edited by Hezz; 02-22-09 at 02:39 PM.
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Old 02-22-09, 03:00 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by tsl View Post
I guess it all depends on what you're dressing in.

My winter gear goes on pretty quickly...

Edit: BTW, are you just starting now, or did you start in the autumn? If you're starting now, you'll no doubt need more layers than if you started by acclimating to the cold in the autumn. So there's another way to dress faster--ride straight through and allow you body to get acclimated to the cold so you need fewer layers.
Since tsl posted his winter clothing list, FYA, here's mine, in response to a previous Road Cycling thread, "Your clothing choices for various temps":

Your clothing choices for various temps

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I think of my degrees of dress in six levels. Adopting to your table [in boldface] for my 14 mile commute (temperatures in parentheses):

50-70F
Level I (>70): Shorts, short sleeve shirt.

Level II (60): Add thin long legged tights and/or long-sleeve jersey
(50): Add fleece shirt, maybe a wind proof cycling jacket, and long legged cycling tights over thin tights; thin fingered gloves, thin balaclava

30-40F
Level III (40): Heavy cycling jacket and long sleeve jersey; two layers of tights as above; thin balaclava, maybe a woolen cap; heavier woolen gloves
(35): Add safety glasses (as goggles) that fit over my eyeglasses; extra pair of neoprene socks; balaclava and woolen cap

10-30F
Level IV (30) Add fleece jersey; thin, fingered gloves and thick wind-proof fingered gloves; neoprene extra socks and neoprene booties over shoes

Level V (25): Add windproof thin cycling jacket over fleece and under heavy cycling jacket

Level VI: (<20): Thin and thick woolen socks instead of neoprene socks; additional windproof pants over two pairs of tights, add neoprene face mask

<0F?
My personal best has been leaving at 8 degrees in Boston and arriving at my suburban destination at minus 9

I don't like being cold, so I tend to overdress a bit, but I have a rear trunk bag and can remove layers. Recently I've been looking for reasonably priced mittens for level VI.
I do agree that one becomes more acclimated to cold by winter cycling, but cycling in the cold is still cold. IMO a more advantageous benefit is that I tolerate cold and winter much better especially while off the bike.
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Old 02-22-09, 04:36 PM   #14
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I think tsl's method might be the best for limiting the amount of items that you have to put on. So you need one pair of heavy winter riding bibs and some winter cycling shoes. One pair of thick wool socks is all you need with the winter cycling boots.
Exactly. This is my third winter commuting.

The first year I used regular clothes--longjohns, jeans, sweatshirts, etc. It took forever to get dressed and undressed, and I could barely pedal due to all the layers binding and bunching. Worse, I was always both cold and sweaty.

Last winter, I moved partway to cycling-specific stuff. I used Craft baselayers top and bottom, Nashbar tights, and a road crew hi-viz windbreaker. It was a step in the right direction. Pedaling was easier, but I still required too much stuff in the real cold. This lead to binding and bunching at the knees again, and much extra laundry. The Lake winter cycling boots were a revelation, however.

This year I moved to cycling-specific stuff almost exclusively. The windfront bib tights are marvelous. They also have a huge amount of temperature latitude, so I don't have to watch the thermometer so closely. The uninsulated pair (by Sugoi) cover the range from freezing to the mid 50s. The insulated ones (from Endura) cover freezing and below. A commuter cycling-specific jacket (Endura Gridlock) is my outer top layer from 55 to below zero. It works much better in the coldest temps due to its fit, and much better in the warmer temps due to its vents.

It took me a long time to get my head (and budget) around from "normal" to cycling-specific clothes. I'm glad they make this stuff, and glad I lost my pig-headed insistence at cycling in "normal" clothes.

As for the price of this stuff, it's in the same range as Carhartts, or construction-specific winter gear. When I thought of it that way, it didn't seem overpriced. Still had to save a while to buy it though, humble civil-servant's salary and all.
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Old 02-22-09, 11:04 PM   #15
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One thing i've strarted doing lately is to try to use 'wearable' layers. Instead of wearing a thermal undershirt as a layer, i'll wear a sweater. That way when i get to work i don't necessarily have to strip it off right away. and the layer under the sweater will be a tee-shirt, so i don't have to have privacy when i do shed the sweater. I also wear sort of boot-shoes which don't require changing.

All in all i think dressing for commuting beats warming up a vehicle. But my commute is pretty short at 10km, so if i get it wrong one way or the other, it's not that big of a deal.
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Old 02-22-09, 11:54 PM   #16
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Mine goes pretty quick in the morning I wear wool socks, followed by long under pants, followed by wind resistant cycling pants and my MT-31 Mountain biking shoes. Then a silk thermal shirt, a fleece and my shell. On my way out the door, I throw on my balaclava, gloves and helmet... I pack my clothes plus a pair of stretchy boxers (cycling in regular cotton bowers sucks!!) and a T-shirt. On my ride home I sub out the Long Johns for boxers and wear my T-shirt instead of the fleece jacket. I have only had temps down to 9 degrees so far this year and my commute is only 6-7 miles.... On our coldest day I wore a thicker fleece than the normal thin one. i have had no issues with cold after the first 5 minutes or so of warming up.
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Old 02-23-09, 01:58 PM   #17
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On further reading, it becomes obvious why it takes so much time for many dressers. If it's 10 F, I wear wool socks and Sorel Glaciers. Time to put on the footwear: 10 seconds. If you have twelve layers, you can't win.

If you have reason to expect rapid temperature changes, there is a reason for a large amount of thin layers. If you have a sensible short distance to ride, like my 45 minutes, and you can guess the weather for the duration with some accuracy, you can use one or two layers which are just right.
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Old 02-23-09, 02:31 PM   #18
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On further reading, it becomes obvious why it takes so much time for many dressers. If it's 10 F, I wear wool socks and Sorel Glaciers. Time to put on the footwear: 10 seconds. If you have twelve layers, you can't win.

If you have reason to expect rapid temperature changes, there is a reason for a large amount of thin layers. If you have a sensible short distance to ride, like my 45 minutes, and you can guess the weather for the duration with some accuracy, you can use one or two layers which are just right.
+1

Core venting in your jacket also helps to regulate temperature if need be.
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Old 02-23-09, 09:39 PM   #19
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Multi-sock-shoe-overboot systems kill alot of time. One pair of winter shoes addresses this.

Helmet liners and glasses and Balaclavas took forever. Now the insulated fullface and goggles stay together until I need to wash them.

Also for baselayers: If the garment is inside out, and it can be functionally worn inside out, I wear it it inside out. I wasted a lot of time until this thought occurred to me.
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Old 02-24-09, 12:26 PM   #20
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During the coldest weeks of the year I wear an insulated windproof jacket (pile and pertex) rather than layers. It is much more convenient when I need to pop into shops or lose insulation rapidly when coming indoors.
Another useful option is wearing an insulated sleeveless gillet over your windproof outer layer. You can add or remove insulation without disturbing all those layers.
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Old 02-24-09, 01:01 PM   #21
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This tip takes more time, but I throw all my crap in the dryer for a few minutes before putting in on. Nothing like putting on nice warm layers on those cold mornings!!
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Old 02-28-09, 12:25 AM   #22
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My trick is to not have a watch. That way, I have no idea how long it takes to get dressed. All I know is that if I want to get out on the bike, I have to put on clothes. It takes as long as it takes.
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Old 03-02-09, 08:44 PM   #23
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Wow. This thread was started kind of halfway as a joke, but thanks for all the good info. Maybe I'll try and pick up some of that gear at the end of the season here when it goes on sale. In the meantime, I really like this advice:

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My trick is to not have a watch.
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Old 03-03-09, 07:21 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teemu Kalvas View Post
On further reading, it becomes obvious why it takes so much time for many dressers...If you have reason to expect rapid temperature changes, there is a reason for a large amount of thin layers. If you have a sensible short distance to ride, like my 45 minutes, and you can guess the weather for the duration with some accuracy, you can use one or two layers which are just right.
Quote:
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During the coldest weeks of the year I wear an insulated windproof jacket (pile and pertex) rather than layers. It is much more convenient when I need to pop into shops or lose insulation rapidly when coming indoors....
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I think of my degrees of dress in six levels...(temperatures in parentheses):

50-70F
Level I (>70): Shorts, short sleeve shirt.

Level II (60): Add thin long legged tights and/or long-sleeve jersey
(50): Add fleece shirt, maybe a wind proof cycling jacket, and long legged cycling tights over thin tights;thin fingered gloves, thin balaclava

30-40F
Level III (40): Heavy cycling jacket and long sleeve jersey; two layers of tights as above; thin balaclava, maybe a woolen cap; heavier woolen gloves
(35): Add safety glasses (as goggles) that fit over my eyeglasses; extra pair of neoprene socks; balaclava and woolen cap

10-30F
Level IV (30) Add fleece jersey; thin, fingered gloves and thick wind-proof fingered gloves; neoprene extra socks and neoprene booties over shoes

Level V (25): Add windproof thin cycling jacket over fleece and under heavy cycling jacket

Level VI: (<20): Thin and thick woolen socks instead of neoprene socks; additional windproof pants over two pairs of tights, add neoprene face mask.
Today I rode 14 miles at 17 degrees over about an hour and fifteen minutes wearing level VI. As a I undressed I noted that all my layers were moist, yet I felt pretty comfortable, i.e not wet. I was thinking that perhaps several layers rather than a thin and thick layer might allow for sucessive wicking to distribute the moisture burden more evenly rather than accumulate under one layer. Personally I can't imagine being warmer on a significantly cold ride under just one layer, and the length of time to dress is the price to pay.

BTW, today's ride met my favorite definition of a significantly cold weather ride--my water bottle was frozen solid ;-)
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Old 03-04-09, 11:30 AM   #25
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Exactly. This is my third winter commuting.

The first year I used regular clothes--longjohns, jeans, sweatshirts, etc. It took forever to get dressed and undressed, and I could barely pedal due to all the layers binding and bunching. Worse, I was always both cold and sweaty.

Last winter, I moved partway to cycling-specific stuff.
<SNIP>
It took me a long time to get my head (and budget) around from "normal" to cycling-specific clothes. I'm glad they make this stuff, and glad I lost my pig-headed insistence at cycling in "normal" clothes.

As for the price of this stuff, it's in the same range as Carhartts, or construction-specific winter gear. When I thought of it that way, it didn't seem overpriced. Still had to save a while to buy it though, humble civil-servant's salary and all.
+1 on all accounts. I did pretty much the same. The only difference is that I started riding in Spring and by the Fall I realized that regular pants were not going to work well. My commute is only 5 miles so I don't have to wear cycling specific shorts or pants, but you do need something that you can move in.

First Winter I got by using a medium weight pair of Illuminite tights. There were great down to about 40, but realy were not warm enough for proper winter use. I added my J&G rain pants as an addditional layer, but that was a pain. I did get an E-Vap coat from Lou at www.foxwear.net the 1st winter and it is phenomenally flexible. I am good from around 50F down to about 0F. At the lower end I may need a light wind breaker if it is windy... by this is remarkable comfy.

- I always wear a wicking T shirt as I sweat no matter what the temp is outside
- For Fall/Spring I'll wear the lighter tights
- For Winter I now have a pair of the cycling tights from foxwear... they are amazing. Just about completely wind proof, but very comfy and keep me happy to the single digits. On a windy 2F day I added my rain pants as a wind blocking layer, but otherwise quite nice on its own.
- For Fall/Spring I may add a long sleeve Jersey for cool days
- For winter I'll use my foxwear E-VAp coat.

Once I get to work I let myself cool down for about 20 minutes and then change into pants and a dres shirt. It takes me just a minute or two to change. At the end of the day I reverse and again it takes only a minute or two at most to get changed.

Cost of the winter gear wasn't that bad. Considering gasoline cost a better part of $4 for the last year I've easily paid for the equipment:
T-shirts no more than $20 each. I got one from Target last year for under $13 and it works fine as well
Lighter tights $50 (on sale)
Heavy tights from foxwear $85
E-Vap coat $85
Rain pants from J&G $35
Hat/cap $19 from local ski shop
Balaclava for the realy cold days $14 from Performance Bike

I slowly built up my list of clothing. The right clothing makes the ride MUCH more enjoyable.

Happy riding,
André
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