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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 11-08-12, 10:32 PM   #1
lungimsam
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How do I reduce sweat on my winter rides?

I wear full long johns, dockers pants, a sweater, and a light LLBean rainjacket (keeps out wind) on commutes in 30's -50F.

But I sweat alot above the waist under it all, and if I stop riding, I can feel myself start to get chilly as my layers are wet from the sweat.

How to manage sweat so I don't freeze if out riding all day?

PS- I am trying to stay away from cycling specific clothes and Gore-Tex type stuff. Too expensive. Just trying to use regular clothes.

Thanks for the tips.

Last edited by lungimsam; 11-08-12 at 10:36 PM.
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Old 11-08-12, 11:08 PM   #2
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Wear the minimum possible. 1 or 2 small layers should be all you need at 30-50F.
The cheapest way to have something correct should be to look for 1 or 2 layers of polyester or wool/merino tops
Cut a plastic sheet the shape of your upper body (close to a rectangle shape) put that under your top in front and you've got your cycling gear for commutes. That's it

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Old 11-08-12, 11:23 PM   #3
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I wear full long johns, dockers pants, a sweater, and a light LLBean rainjacket (keeps out wind) on commutes in 30's -50F.
Don't wear waterproof stuff if it doesn't rain.

If it does rain, choose between getting sweaty or getting wet from the rain. You will see rain gear marketed as breathable (Goretex is an example)... take it with a grain of salt. If you're prone to sweating like I am, you'll still have that problem no matter what. My latest raincoat is a Goretex Active shell, supposedly the best breathing waterproof Goretex membrane, expensive and all. It's probably the best I've had so far, but still not nearly good enough in terms of breathability. Choose layers next to your skin so that you don't feel so cold even if they get wet. I prefer wool myself, especially merino wool.

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Old 11-08-12, 11:51 PM   #4
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1. Antiperspirant

2. Fewer clothes
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Old 11-09-12, 05:04 AM   #5
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Waterproof outer layer works both ways, so moisture stays inside and you feel sweaty.
Use a non waterproof, windproof shell and save the waterproof for when it is raining.

In choosing windproof materials, I use the Huff test. Hold some of the material against your mouth an give a good huff. If your breath goes through with no resistance, it is not suitable for winter use, If you cant get any breath through, it is not permeable enough. If some air can be forced through, it will be totally windproof and fairly permeable.
When I used to run 2 shells, I could really feel the difference when I switched from my goretex waterproof to my dense-weave polycotton windproof, I was instantly warmer, dryer and cosier.

Dont overdress, you should start the ride cool. Use a sleeveless body-warmer/gillet style insulation over your shell and you can remove it easily if you start to warm up. Merino baselayer is the most comfortable, synthetic wicking layers are OK, cotton is not good if you sweat. It wont kill you or anything for general urban riding (it may do that for more adventurous winter riding). Plain, no-name wicking T shirts are cheaper than cotton at many of the big outdoor stores. You dont need cycling features.
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Old 11-09-12, 05:29 AM   #6
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If it's just a little sweat on your chest or coming down from your face, it might be enough to wipe your skin with a bandana and then lash it to your bike to dry. You might need a couple bandanas.
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Old 11-09-12, 08:40 AM   #7
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This probably doesn't apply to commuting as much as longer cold weather rides but I have a friend that told me about cutting a hole in a towel and throwing it on as a base layer then pulling it out through his collar after it became saturated. Supposedly, and my experience has been this as well, you sweat a lot at first and then the body reduces the sweat output.

Last edited by abraxist; 11-09-12 at 09:18 AM.
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Old 11-09-12, 10:05 PM   #8
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I wear full long johns, dockers pants, a sweater, and a light LLBean rainjacket (keeps out wind) on commutes in 30's -50F.

But I sweat alot above the waist under it all, and if I stop riding, I can feel myself start to get chilly as my layers are wet from the sweat.

How to manage sweat so I don't freeze if out riding all day?

PS- I am trying to stay away from cycling specific clothes and Gore-Tex type stuff. Too expensive. Just trying to use regular clothes.

Thanks for the tips.
For 50 F your wearing too much. For 40 F your wearing too much. For 30 F maybe all right.

Swap out long johns with light weight exercise or cycling tights. Not as warm as long johns but will breath better and let sweat escape better and won't hold onto moisture as much as regular long johns. Don't wear tights under pants at 50-40 F. It's too much. Put them on at around 38 F or below.

Sweater is too much for 50-40 F with rain jacket on top. Carry rain jacket at these temperatures but don't wear it unless it rains.

Try Sweater without jacket or jacket without sweater at 50-40 F and use what works the best for you.

At 30 F put the jacket on over sweater. But make sure your rain jacket is breathable type or sweat cannot escape.
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Old 11-10-12, 06:23 AM   #9
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Jesus man.. you're wearing a ton of cotton and a rain jacket on top of it, you have pretty much the optimal combination to produce the most amount of sweat. If you wanted to kick it up a notch you could where some trash bags to really seal things up.

^^^ just kidding with you.

Get some merino wool or polyester based clothes, they can be general outdoor performance cloths and not cycling specific. I also use wool knee and arm warmers (which can be worn under normal clothes but still help keep you dry). Merino wool socks are great also, Costco has 4 pair for $12 now.
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Old 11-10-12, 06:49 AM   #10
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It's kind of been said, but I'll say it again. Shed layers when you get hot, and put them on when you stop for breaks when you're getting cold.

Opening zippers for ventilation may serve the same purpose as shedding layers.
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Old 11-10-12, 11:03 AM   #11
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Wear less. You're making the #1 winter cycling mistake, which is to bundle up. You need something that wicks next to your skin (synthetics like CoolMax, or merino wool - which is softer and doesn't get stinky, so it's worth the extra cost!), and something to protect you from wind, and not a hell of a lot else. Certainly very little insulation, since you will be producing quite a lot of heat through your efforts (bring a sweater or fleece jacket to pop on when you stop).

It's a bit of a balancing act and it's different for each person and each climate region; you'll figure out what works best for you soon enough. But a general rule of thumb is that you should feel a bit cool - not shivering-cold, but close to chilly - before you start out, and you'll warm up pretty soon. Extremities like hands and feet will get colder than your core, so it's kind of the opposite from the conventional wisdom of bundling up the torso.
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Old 11-12-12, 03:20 PM   #12
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Jumpin' jellybeans, I'd be soaked with sweat if I wore all that on my commutes in those temperatures. I know you don't want cycling specific stuff, but do yourself a favor and go to Target or somewhere and get a wicking material baselayer shirt. That will help tremendously. Then just layer non-cotton materials for warmth. STAY AWAY FROM COTTON! Cotton is like a sponge, it just gets wet and stays wet and make you cold. Nylon, spandex, polyester, UnderArmor-type stuff is what you need to be looking for.
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Old 11-12-12, 03:51 PM   #13
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30-50F is not a range that can be dealt with with one method of dressing. For me personally I have several temperature increments that get different clothing combos in that range. That being said, you are wearing way too much clothing for 40-50F weather and probably even for the 30's. Probably the greatest thing you can do is ditch the sweater, I would never wear a sweater on a bike, too hot.
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Old 11-12-12, 03:56 PM   #14
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Sam, I'm a southerner who likes it warm and not particularly tough about cold weather. A couple of days ago the morning commute was low 30's and I wore: running shorts, running shirt, long sleeve jersey, jogging pants. All that was a little warm, but not enough to sweat in. I seem to go through it every winter so far, overdressing at first and arriving sweaty.

Just wear layers of thin, light clothes and gradually try less until you hit your comfort zone.
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Old 11-12-12, 04:16 PM   #15
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FWIW in my personal experience, a wind stopping layer that breathes is what is actually essential until it gets down to near freezing once you remove wind chill, it's a lot easier and if your not bogged down with extra layers you're a lot less likely to become a hot/cold mess.
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Old 11-12-12, 10:04 PM   #16
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The general consensus in southern Wisconsin is to wear a tight fitting "wicking" layer as a base, usually made out of synthetic materials. It pulls the sweat away from the skin. The middle layer is a little more varied depending on the temperature, length of ride, etc. But the key is the outer layer which should be a waterproof, breathable layer. It allows the sweat to evaporate, which it does pretty quickly in the winter air.

You can't wear anything to stop sweating, the trick is to deal with it in a way that keeps it from accumulating. If you wear a waterproof, non-breathing layer, it will simply keep all of the sweat under the jacket.
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Old 11-12-12, 11:30 PM   #17
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I am learning that I am correctly dressed for a cold weather commute if my torso and arms are a little cold when I first get on the bike, as others have mentioned. I always think of that Pulp Fiction scene with the water hose in the back yard where Jules talks about the "chilly morning air" - that is what the start of the commute feels like. I warm up quickly, though. Like others have said, go warm with the finger and ear protection, and go with zero cotton and layered non-cotton under a synthetic windbreaker of some kind. For the legs, I use polyester track warm-up type pants with mesh inside, and I have yet to need anything other than the bike shorts under that down to freezing or so. Experiment and find what works well for you, just remember - layers under a windbreaker, and no cotton!
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Old 11-13-12, 12:34 AM   #18
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I am learning that I am correctly dressed for a cold weather commute if my torso and arms are a little cold when I first get on the bike, as others have mentioned.
Torso?
Back you mean. Torso means you have most chances to get a pneumonia because the front won't be enough protected from the wind.
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Old 11-13-12, 01:39 AM   #19
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Torso?
Back you mean. Torso means you have most chances to get a pneumonia because the front won't be enough protected from the wind.
Nonsense! Old wives tales. You don't get sick from being cold. You get sick from viruses and bacteria.
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Old 11-13-12, 03:11 AM   #20
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I am learning that I am correctly dressed for a cold weather commute if my torso and arms are a little cold when I first get on the bike, as others have mentioned.
I don't see how that would work on a bike.

While backpacking, I do something like this. I get rather cold when I break camp, but I'm on the trail within 10-15 minutes and quickly warm up, especially once the sun rises.

On the bike, I'm finding that I only get colder unless I throw on more clothing. I'll freely admit that I'm struggling to find the right balance between managing sweat and warmth. If I don't figure it out soon, I'll probably go with vapor barrier clothing for this winter season, for example, a vest made with thin foam or reflectix. Then sweating won't matter nearly as much.
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Old 11-13-12, 08:26 AM   #21
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I don't see how that would work on a bike.

While backpacking, I do something like this. I get rather cold when I break camp, but I'm on the trail within 10-15 minutes and quickly warm up, especially once the sun rises.

On the bike, I'm finding that I only get colder unless I throw on more clothing. I'll freely admit that I'm struggling to find the right balance between managing sweat and warmth. If I don't figure it out soon, I'll probably go with vapor barrier clothing for this winter season, for example, a vest made with thin foam or reflectix. Then sweating won't matter nearly as much.
Believe it, it does work. One key is breaking the wind on the outer layer - provided you're dry it's the wind that cools you in the summer, winter or any other time. It breaks down to something to wick perspiration on first, thermal layer(s) over that, stopping the air flow last, hopefully ventilated. It's natural to put too much on and feel nice and toasty going out the door, but if you don't feel a bit chilled when you start you'll be sweltering by the time you "warm up".
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Old 11-13-12, 09:30 AM   #22
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If I'm dressed correctly and have to wait for a ride to start for 10 minutes or something, I should be shivering uncontrollably. That's dressed correctly. It sounds like the OP is wearing cotton. Never wear cotton. None, like zero. I never wear wool either, except for my socks. Wear nothing but synthetic from the skin out. Never wear waterproof, even if it's raining, unless it's absolutely pouring and you don't ride fast. Of course you'll feel chilly if you stop for a while! If I have to stop and it's not raining, I take my jacket off to let the sweat dry.

The OP wants cheap. That's hard to do. Try Goodwill or some such thrift store. You'll need some sort of polypro undershirt and a pile shirt and a nylon windbreaker. Should be able to find those things. Head is a little harder. If it's really cold you need a balaclava or if it's warmer one of those thin Pearl Izumi skull caps under your helmet. Those aren't too expensive. Legs are harder to find cheap stuff for. You might be able to find some old wool ski pants. You'll need polypro longjohns under them if it's really cold. If it's raining and you can't afford proper rain tights like Pearl Izumi Amfib tights ($155), you'll just have to wear cheap rain pants with leg clips over the wool pants. Basically, if you're sweating a lot, wear thinner layers and nothing waterproof.
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Old 11-13-12, 09:34 AM   #23
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Yep, you should be chilly for the first 10-15 min or so. If you're still too cold, ride a little harder.
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Old 11-13-12, 10:27 AM   #24
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Yep, you should be chilly for the first 10-15 min or so. If you're still too cold, ride a little harder.
Another +1 to being chilly for the first 10-15 min or so ... but if you're still chilly after about 20 minutes on the bike, it's time to add another layer.


That said, I had a 30 minute commute to work when I lived in Winnipeg, and I would dress so that I was warm from the moment I left the apartment. I didn't want to be chilly for the first 15 minutes of my ride.
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Old 11-14-12, 12:06 PM   #25
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Walmart and target both have cheap wicking base layer stuff for sale. I like a nice wool sweater for my mid layer, think used at a goodwill or such, mine average about $5.00. Find a running store for tights, maybe 20-30$.
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