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How do I make it easier to ride in the Winter?

Old 12-17-20, 06:57 PM
  #1  
DreamRider85
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How do I make it easier to ride in the Winter?

I'm in the Bay Area. It's not super cold like other areas, but we're in the 50s an 60s. Even though I'm wearing layers, a head warmer, gloves and toe warmers, it's still pretty cold. They do make a difference, but if one part of your body is cold, you're still cold. Like my hands. I'm wearing thermal gloves and it's still kinda cold. I can feel my forearms being a bit cold and the toe warmers help just somewhat, but my feet are still cold. And I do wear thermal socks, which make a difference.

But what I'm finding is I can't go out as long, it's not as enjoyable. I can go a little more than an hour but beyond that it's just too cold. I'm trying to get this down. I did order a new jacket, which I hopes makes a difference. But I just feel like I might be a piece away. Maybe wearing something to cover my face might help lol, so it would be like wearing a covid mask.

I really miss the other 3 seasons when it's in the 70s and 80s. Let me know your thoughts.
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Old 12-17-20, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by DreamRider85 View Post
I'm in the Bay Area. It's not super cold like other areas, but we're in the 50s an 60s. Even though I'm wearing layers, a head warmer, gloves and toe warmers, it's still pretty cold. They do make a difference, but if one part of your body is cold, you're still cold. Like my hands. I'm wearing thermal gloves and it's still kinda cold. I can feel my forearms being a bit cold and the toe warmers help just somewhat, but my feet are still cold. And I do wear thermal socks, which make a difference.

But what I'm finding is I can't go out as long, it's not as enjoyable. I can go a little more than an hour but beyond that it's just too cold. I'm trying to get this down. I did order a new jacket, which I hopes makes a difference. But I just feel like I might be a piece away. Maybe wearing something to cover my face might help lol, so it would be like wearing a covid mask.

I really miss the other 3 seasons when it's in the 70s and 80s. Let me know your thoughts.
Are you wearing a Merino base layer and Merino socks?

I would kill for that weather. That is shorts weather and summer gloves for me.
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Old 12-17-20, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Mulberry20 View Post
Are you wearing a Merino base layer and Merino socks?

I would kill for that weather. That is shorts weather and summer gloves for me.
I second the merino. I wear only merino base layers when it gets colder out, makes a huge difference. Poly or cotton won’t cut it for me.

Second what wind layers are you wearing? Gore is tops.

Third, what is on your head and face?
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Old 12-17-20, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Toadmeister View Post
I second the merino. I wear only merino base layers when it gets colder out, makes a huge difference. Poly or cotton wonít cut it for me.

Second what wind layers are you wearing? Gore is tops.

Third, what is on your head and face?

the wind layer is from Bontrager I think. And I wear a long sleeve shirt and an under armor shirt under it.

on my head I think Iím just wearing a regular head warmer but it has open space on the top.
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Old 12-17-20, 07:49 PM
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I rode this past Sunday - it was 36 degrees and raining. I think you need to HTFU.

Also, you haven't told us what you are wearing. What layers, what are they made of, do you have a vest or jacket, how thick is the cap, shorts or tights, etc...?

But start with the obvious: if your hands are cold, buy thicker gloves or use glove liners - wool is best, but in a pinch you can use those cheapie knit gloves they sell near the checkstand in any decent hardware store or even Wal-Mart. If your feet are cold, buy shoe covers. etc.

Last edited by Koyote; 12-17-20 at 08:10 PM.
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Old 12-17-20, 08:45 PM
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50s and 60s in mid-December? That ain't cold.

Although I do remember the first time I visited California.... It was L.A., in February. It was gorgeous crystal clear blue sky, mild temperatures, and everyone was wearing heavy down coats. Because, you know, it was February!
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Old 12-17-20, 09:14 PM
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the wool socks are a must. I went for a ride one morning with it was abut 45 and I forgot my wool socks. What a miserable experience.
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Old 12-17-20, 09:29 PM
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I kinda agree, you're being a bit 'wimpy' at those temps, but there are people who are very sensitive to cooler temps, so take that statement tongue-in-cheek.

Try different combinations, and don't skimp on quality. For my head, skull caps work to below 40. I have no use for vests, as my arms are always as cold as my torso. I like Craft base layers, and my best discovery a few years ago was that they made some base layers that had wind protection on the front side. And don't neglect the neck.

My weakness on cold rides is almost always my feet. I also discovered toe warmers a few years back, and they work for me to a bit below 50. I also invested in some winter shoes, but I didn't get a big enough size so they don't do the job. At freezing temps, my feet are miserable after 1.5 hours. I dislike wearing full booties.

Follow the common advice to dress is layers of breathable material. Remember that when starting out on a ride in cool temps, if you're not cold starting out you're over-dressed.
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Old 12-17-20, 09:45 PM
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In Wisconsin I’ve been riding in the low 30’s, but they just salted the roads, so I’m done till spring.
Now it’s time to peg the boredom meter, on the indoor trainer.
Check out Immersion Research, they make some great gear for cold weather kayaking, specifically their thickskin shirts and pants. Use that for a base layer, with some Smartwool ski socks, lightweight fleece hat under the helmet, and fleece gloves, at the coldest it gets in SF, you’ll be toasty.
Frankly, in your coldest weather I’d still be wearing shorts, but it’s all relative, I used to live in CA, froze my ass off first year in Wisconsin.
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Old 12-17-20, 09:47 PM
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I walk my dog for a couple miles in the mid 40F's to warm up a bit before taking off on a ride. Find your method that warms you prior to riding.
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Old 12-17-20, 10:21 PM
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I bought a smart trainer to stay in out of the cold/salt/snow.
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Old 12-17-20, 10:49 PM
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Originally Posted by DreamRider85 View Post
the wind layer is from Bontrager I think. And I wear a long sleeve shirt and an under armor shirt under it.

on my head I think Iím just wearing a regular head warmer but it has open space on the top.
Under Armor synthetics donít work for me in the cold because they wick moisture too well, cooling you off. Thatís why I wear synthetics in the summer.

Start with some Smartwool tall socks and make sure your feet arenít getting cut off from circulation, you canít go wrong here for $20. Try upgrading to other merino base layers piece by piece.
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Old 12-17-20, 11:24 PM
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I plan on doing a mountain bike ride tomorrow. Environment Canada predicts a high temperature of -9 C(about 13 F) When I hear people whining about temperatures 10 or more degrees above freezing I sort of shake my head and feel sorry for them
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Old 12-17-20, 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by alcjphil View Post
I plan on doing a mountain bike ride tomorrow. Environment Canada predicts a high temperature of -9 C(about 13 F) When I hear people whining about temperatures 10 or more degrees above freezing I sort of shake my head and feel sorry for them
Thanks, this is just what this thread needed. A d!ck measuring contest on how cold we can ride....

that said, mine would benefit from some shinkage in the cold.....
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Old 12-18-20, 12:24 AM
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Since you live in the Bay Area, a hill is usually not too far away. You might want to head for a long climb straight away, or drive your bike to a hill, and start climbing to quickly warm up. Or do some intervals, anything with high output will warm you. If you go out and noodle around on a cold day, getting and staying warm is difficult at best and at worst you will look like the Michelin man. But at least he looks good, except for his spare tire...rim shot.
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Old 12-18-20, 12:45 AM
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The short answer is to simply wear warmer things and/or more layers on the parts that are getting cold. Nobody can give you better advice than that. You have to figure out for yourself what you need to stay warm.

Contrary to what others have written, I've never liked wool anything and various layers of synthetics work well for me. I ride to about +20F or until it snows at which point I just ski which is what people should do in the winter ;-)

Top and bottom: base layer of your choice, mid layer of whatever weight you need, and a wind breaker, not goretex unless you need it for rain. The mid layer is what you just need to adjust heavier, both top and bottom, to get whatever you need to stay warm.

Form my head I have about 4 different weights of balaclavas. I like balaclavas better than things like "buffs" because they cover the top of your head while also keeping your neck warm. Use whatever weight you need to keep your head warm.

Same with gloves - I have several cycling- specific and also XC gloves so have a lot to choose from. Just get whatever weight you need to keep your hands warm. When it's really cold, I use "lobster" mittens which are warmer and bulkier than gloves but allow you to shift and use the brakes. But at 50F, you should easily be able to find gloves that keep your hands warm. They don't need to be cycling specific,. but the palms do need to not be slippery, so you need leather or tacky synthetic.

I've found this type of glove - while not cycling specific - to work well. But they are cheap, readily available and you could buy a couple of weights to see if they work for you to get an idea before you buy more expensive cycling specific gloves.

rubber palm ajax gloves - Bing images

They are available in any store that sells work gloves - i.e. big box stores or hardware stores. Various brands (mine happen to be Ajax which is why I used it in my search), colors, weights, etc.

Sorry I can't be any more helpful, but, again, the simple answer is just dress warmer, experiment until you get it. Good luck! I prefer 70-80F, but don't put on a windbreaker until 60 and wear shorts down to about 50 at which point I put thin wind pants on. The thermal tights don't come out until colder than that - I also have 3-4 sets of xc skiing tights which I just wear over my cycling shorts.

Last edited by Camilo; 12-18-20 at 01:02 AM.
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Old 12-18-20, 01:01 AM
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Oh, and re: feet: The worst thing you can do for foot warmth is to try to wear too-thick socks inside the shoe. That's bad for circulation which is what keeps your feet warm. So the correct weight of sock is what fits properly inside your shoe - which then means, probably not much thicker than your summer socks. So you need boot covers. I've never used toe covers, but have full neoprene shoe covers that cover the shoe and ankle.

So like the other advice I gave, if your feet get cold, you need warmer shoe covers (and possibly lighter socks if the ones you're trying to use are too thick.)

Good luck
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Old 12-18-20, 01:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Toadmeister View Post
Thanks, this is just what this thread needed. A d!ck measuring contest on how cold we can ride....

that said, mine would benefit from some shinkage in the cold.....
Hehe
I live in the tropics. December temps still reach 90F. Summers can get 120F. That's hot and humid!

I won't be surprised if I snapped just below 70F. It depends on where we are acclimated!
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Old 12-18-20, 04:41 AM
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LOL at people who complain about 50s and 60s as being cold. Some people just don't know what real cold is.
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Old 12-18-20, 06:35 AM
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DreamRider85

Seriously, I find that I enjoy riding in the 50s best. My favorite temperature range. Start with leg and arm warmers, then remove them after temps rise a bit, or whenever you feel warmed up. A light long sleeve layer and shorts work perfectly well in the 50s. Maybe a cycling cap. The ability to flip up or down the visor also helps with the lower sun angles. The 60s require summer garb.
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Old 12-18-20, 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
LOL at people who complain about 50s and 60s as being cold. Some people just don't know what real cold is.
Yeah, I saw the title and then saw 50's and 60's, and stopped reading. Temp was -10*C this morning on my ride to work. If I see temps in the 50's F in Jan and Feb, I am absolutely giddy with excitement.

To OP, get some long tights. Layer. A good pair of gloves, and neoprene shoe covers.
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Old 12-18-20, 07:43 AM
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In the 50s I wear knee warmers, Defeet shoe covers (they slide on like giant socks), long sleeve base layer with jersey and arm warmers (maybe a vest if low 50s and overcast), and long finger gloves, either Defeet or some other cloth like material.

If it gets too cold, upping the intensity helps.

Making sure you're properly fueled helps as well. Running out of energy when it's cool makes it feel 10 degrees colder.
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Old 12-18-20, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by DreamRider85 View Post
I'm in the Bay Area. It's not super cold like other areas, but we're in the 50s an 60s. Even though I'm wearing layers, a head warmer, gloves and toe warmers, it's still pretty cold. They do make a difference, but if one part of your body is cold, you're still cold. Like my hands. I'm wearing thermal gloves and it's still kinda cold. I can feel my forearms being a bit cold and the toe warmers help just somewhat, but my feet are still cold. And I do wear thermal socks, which make a difference.

But what I'm finding is I can't go out as long, it's not as enjoyable. I can go a little more than an hour but beyond that it's just too cold. I'm trying to get this down. I did order a new jacket, which I hopes makes a difference. But I just feel like I might be a piece away. Maybe wearing something to cover my face might help lol, so it would be like wearing a covid mask.

I really miss the other 3 seasons when it's in the 70s and 80s. Let me know your thoughts.
Mark Twain once said "the coldest winter is a summer in San Francisco." This man is not responsible for the weather where he lives. The body adapts to the weather where you live. If he's cold at 50 F he's cold end of story. Just because he lives where the weather is relatively nice all year shouldn't be held against him. I grew up in Hawaii and 59 F was cold. When I lived in HI I used to think why would people drive to snow to go skiing? Santa came on a surfboard! Are people nuts? To each's own. People in AZ, and NV, probably wonder why the cyclist in the North can't cycle when it's over 105 F. People do cycle in those conditions. We don't tell them well why don't your ride naked? This doesn't have to be a pissing contest folks.

Wear Merino wool baselayer, you can buy this stuff at thriftstores and other places. Wear a 2nd layer maybe a longsleeve, hoodie, you don't want to sweat when riding. Now I live in Denver, I won't ride in temperature less than 32 F. My nutritionist rides in weather down to 15 F. Our temperature oscillates above/below freezing consistently causing snow turning to ice and water and vice versa. Do I wish I had the weather that the OP has all year around yes. I lived in the bay area for 12 years. Wet cold is colder than dry cold. I hope that this helps.

Last edited by alloo; 12-18-20 at 08:03 AM.
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Old 12-18-20, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by alloo View Post
Mark Twain once said "the coldest winter is a summer in San Francisco."
I'm always fascinated when I see the weather maps and it reports 50 degrees in S.F., 75 in Oakland, and 90 in San Jose. A crazy area.
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Old 12-18-20, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by DreamRider85 View Post
I'm in the Bay Area. It's not super cold like other areas, but we're in the 50s an 60s. Even though I'm wearing layers, a head warmer, gloves and toe warmers, it's still pretty cold. They do make a difference, but if one part of your body is cold, you're still cold. Like my hands. I'm wearing thermal gloves and it's still kinda cold. I can feel my forearms being a bit cold and the toe warmers help just somewhat, but my feet are still cold. And I do wear thermal socks, which make a difference.

But what I'm finding is I can't go out as long, it's not as enjoyable. I can go a little more than an hour but beyond that it's just too cold. I'm trying to get this down. I did order a new jacket, which I hopes makes a difference. But I just feel like I might be a piece away. Maybe wearing something to cover my face might help lol, so it would be like wearing a covid mask.

I really miss the other 3 seasons when it's in the 70s and 80s. Let me know your thoughts.
Lots of folks are/will talkin trash ... I'm that kinda guy too, but I'll offer help too.

This Toad hasn't found a temp too cold to ride, I've been out for rides at -29F (actual temp, not including windchill). Getting to this point took years of riding colder conditions, learning, adjusting, repeating.

Temps in 50s can be summer kit weather when it's sunny, and can be cold when it's cloudy, windy and humid. IMHO, temps in the 30s & 40s with humidity are the hardest to stay comfortable.

I'll +1 merino wool, it is key to staying comfortable - 45NRTH is a great place to get wool cycling gear.
Also +1 wind blocking vest
Additionally, focus on your core and head - if your core is warm, your fingers and toes are warm & remember you'll loss most of your heat through your head.

For head wear - I use 45NRTH Greezy for winter, that's likely be too warm for your conditions, but something like the Stavanger or Stove Pipe should be a good fit for your conditions.
For my feet - I love Smartwool snowboard socks, warm and fun designs.
For windblocking vest - I have my team kit vest from Podiumwear - there are lots of good options for Pearl Izumi and others.
A nice accessory for core wind blocking - I have an older version of this Garneau base layer, it is shockingly great at keeping you warm.

Here's my kit for a 108-mile day at The Heck of the North - temps around freezing at the start and warmed up to 55F:

Smartwool long sleeve shirt under team kit
Pearl Izumi knee warmers
Darn Tough snowboard socks
Neck buff
Warm (but not winter) cycling cap
Team vest went in the CamelBak at the first checkpoint
Nordic ski gloves also went in the CamelBak at the first checkpoint
* This Toad runs warmer than the average toad.
* This was a race and I was riding hard, keeping the core hot.



Photo credit: this Toad's wife

Last edited by Hypno Toad; 12-19-20 at 02:48 PM.
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