Well after riding year round for 1.5 years now you would think I would have this figured out. Actually I just about do have it figured out with one exception...the feet.
Today I tried out an experiment for an initial test run to bring back the memories from last year about winter riding. It was the first decent cool morning of the fall, 36 degrees when I left home and it was suppose to only get into the low to mid 40s, and it was suppose to possibly even rain during the day, it did.
I came up with an idea Monday evening of putting on a wetsuit and trying it out. I knew last winter I was wearing a neoprene hood and gloves all winter long and they worked great. I don't know why I never thought about the full body wetsuit I had laying around. I guess I was too busy thinking the smart move was to try to stay as dry as possible instead of trying to stay warm even when your wet...dumb on my part. I decided to try it today and ended up riding 85 miles with it on, even in the rain. At one point I was standing out talking with another cyclist, he wasn't out biking at the time, for 30-45 minutes with temps in the lower 40s and still stayed warm...this was toward the end of the ride. The only part of me that got cold was the feet. I think I have found my winter riding gear...except the feet, all neoprene head to ankle/toe. Designed to keep you warm even when wet, and design to help keep the water off you from the outside to a certain extent. It acts as natural windbreaker, full body windbreaker since I'm wearing a full body wetsuit. Just like I remember it from last year.
Yes, just like I remember it...including the cold feet. Even putting on the neoprene booties today, admittedly with holes in the ankles and one having a nice size hole in the toe thanks to being used for several years for whitewater kayaking, they didn't work worth a crap today. I had on a pair of 'thermal socks' underneath the neoprene booties. Admittedly, the socks were soaked when I took them off. Some of it may have come from the rain but I think most of it must have come from sweat. I didn't get any rain until I was talking with the other cyclist and my feet had been cold LONG before that.
I realize living in snow country you do have to fight the snow element, err sand and salt on the roads yet alone any remaining snow that is melting. You have to keep the shoes dry first and then keep the feet warm. By keep the shoes dry and keeping the wind off the shoes helps to a certain extent to keep the feet warm.
Shortly before coming up the idea for the wetsuit back on Monday I saw a pair of both neoprene toe warmers and full neoprene bike booties in the bike shop. I looked at both but both were too small for my size 13/48 shoes. The toe warmers wouldn't fit all the way over the cleats. As for the booties it was pretty obvious by holding them up to the shoes that even the L/XLs were too short.
What do you do to keep your feet warm/keep the wind/rain/salt/sand off the shoes? The principles are simple but the execution seems to be much more difficult.