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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 10-26-11, 09:28 PM   #1
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Warm feet and more

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.
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Old 10-26-11, 10:14 PM   #2
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Felt insoles in my winter cyclying shoes(clip less), wool/hollofil blend socks. When its below -10 C I use neoprene mtb shoe covers and toasty toe chemical warmers. If it is really sloppy wet I use rain covers as well. Kept me warm all winter on my 45 min commute.
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Old 10-27-11, 02:58 AM   #3
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I wrote an article entitled, "Cold Feet" - What Works For Me ...

The article describes what works for me so that my feet stay warm in temperatures from chilly to bitterly cold.
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Old 10-27-11, 05:35 AM   #4
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Proper winter boots (this means platform pedals too), enough space in them to wear wool sock(s) and felt/wool insoles. A pair of heavy GoreTex hiking boots that reach well above ankle have been good to me. They also keep dry in slush etc.

Regarding wetsuits, I think trapping all that moisture is really not a good idea in winter conditions.

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Old 10-27-11, 06:03 AM   #5
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I got a pair of insulated hunting boots, with a low top. Down to 0 F, I'm comfortable with just these on my feet. The scooter mitts on my handlebars let me keep my fingers toasty warm with the lobster mitts (I think my hands have poor circulation).
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Old 10-31-11, 09:22 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I wrote an article entitled, "Cold Feet" - What Works For Me ...

The article describes what works for me so that my feet stay warm in temperatures from chilly to bitterly cold.
I decided to try out the wool sock idea...haven't found the wool insoles yet. I'm running into one rather simple problem though. How do you keep the feet dry. I ended up riding 116 miles today. The first 103 were with the wool socks on and by the time I got home they were soaked and my feet were nicely chilled. First thing in the morning I was fine until I stopped to take the first bathroom break then after that they started to chill down. Morning temp was 26 by the time I was getting home it was in the mid 40s. It's the second time I've tried the wool socks and both times I have the same problem. Today there was some melting snow in places on the road but not much. When I tried it the first time the roads were dry.
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Old 11-01-11, 04:06 AM   #7
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I rarely use just wool socks. I go with light polypro socks as a base layer, and then knee-high wool socks as the over layer. That helps with the wicking.

If your feet are wet because of sweat, roll or spray anti-perspirant on your feet before you put the socks on.

If your feet are wet because of slushy and wet road conditions, wear booties over your cycling shoes. Your feet won't be 100% dry, but they will be drier than without the booties ... and the booties will block the wind which will make your feet feel warm, even if the are a little bit damp.

The temperatures you're riding in are just a bit cool ... you won't want to go with neoprene booties or anything too heavy or you will sweat up a storm. Go with light nylon booties.
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Old 11-01-11, 09:37 AM   #8
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For me wool socks with toe warmers on the bottom of my toes worked well combined with neoprene booties. Keeping the lower legs/ankles warm go a long way towards keeping those feet/toes happy.
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Old 11-01-11, 02:03 PM   #9
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BOGS fisherman/ranch boots plus Power Grip straps.

Clipless pedals don't work in the winter.
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Old 11-01-11, 02:09 PM   #10
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I run BMX pedals and some nice Goretex boots for the rainy season. Wool socks, also.

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Old 11-01-11, 06:04 PM   #11
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My winter boot for the last five years has been an LL Bean Snow sneaker that work down to about 5 degrees before the toes get uncomfortable. I also added a cheap $20 pair of gaitors that work great at keeping the cold and snow out of the top of my boot. I switch to the powergrips in the winter to accomodate the NEOS's when it gets below zero. Tough and expensive choices if you're going clippless in frigid temps. There are folks here at BF who do it.

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Old 11-18-11, 06:49 AM   #12
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Good Thread. IM in the market now for a good winter set of footwear. I Have a huge pair of old Sorel boots but somehow i feel those are going to be too bulky. Id like to find some good goretex hiking boots on the cheap. IM still hunting.
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Old 11-18-11, 07:08 AM   #13
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for deep freeze conditions (not slush), USAF Mukluks are VERY light and warm winter cycling footwear.

I think they might clash with the wetsuit though!
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Old 11-22-11, 06:32 PM   #14
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I lucked into a deal at my LBS. They had a pair Shimano MW80's someone else ordered and never picked up. After few hours at zero degrees with regular tubesocks ,I had toasty toes and the control only clipless pedals can offer in snow. I think wool or thermal socks would work well to -10 below, but it's not been that cold yet. Need to upsize your shoe size tho, I always wear 44's and these 45's fit great and with a sharpie marker you can cover up the shimano easily. Not to mention how fab they'd look with your wetsuit. . .Layering doesn't work for you?
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