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Training below freezing

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Old 10-31-05, 04:34 PM
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BasicJim
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Training below freezing

I did a search on cold weather gear and got an idea of what I am going to need, but the stuff I am seeing at Nashbar for cold weather seems to be aimed at cold TEXAS weather, proudly proclaiming it's good down to 45 degrees!

If I am riding this winter, what am I going to need to be comfortable at 30 degrees or so?

I have my winter running clothes; tights (not real warm for riding), a good wind proof running jacket (pretty thin and vented), and a couple layers of long wicking shirts.

Do I need the helmet covers? Are the toe warmers good, or should I get the whole booties? I have never used wool anything, is that good for leg warmers? Should I get leg warmers or "warm" tights?

Any help from the cold-weather riders is appreciated!!

Thanks!

Jim
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Old 10-31-05, 04:44 PM
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Yeah, I had to laugh when I ordered a jacket from Nashbar a few years ago. The jacket is a nice spring/fall jacket but was advertized as a winter jacket designed to withstand the riggors of the coldest climates ... mmmm-hmmmm ... the coldest climates along the equator maybe!! But I knew that's what it was really like, so I bought the jacket anyway and love it ... as a spring/fall jacket, and even as a winter jacket with the appropriate layers underneath.

And that's the key. Because you are exercising you will warm up, so you don't want to go with something really warm. Layers are the way to go. That way if you find you are warming up too much, you can stop and take something off.


I have my winter running clothes; tights (not real warm for riding), a good wind proof running jacket (pretty thin and vented), and a couple layers of long wicking shirts.

These will not be enough for 30 degrees. You will likely want that plus a pair of warm tights, and a lined jacket.


Do I need the helmet covers? Are the toe warmers good, or should I get the whole booties? I have never used wool anything, is that good for leg warmers? Should I get leg warmers or "warm" tights?

I use the helmet cover if it is raining, or if the temperatures are really cold (and then in combination with my balaclava) ... but for 30 degrees a headband or light balaclava should do.
I'd go with whole booties, but them my feet get very cold when I ride. I did a ride yesterday at about 45deg, and didn't wear my booties at all. My feet froze!!
I wear marino wool tops as a base layer in colder conditions and really like them. I'm not sure how they'd be as tights.
And tights are warmer than leg warmers, so if you are planning to do a lot of riding in cold temps, you probably want tights.

Have you thought about gloves? Mini gloves like those you can get for a dollar from Walmart are great to wear under your cycling gloves at the temperature gets down toward freezing. But below freezing you'll likely want something more substantial. Take a look at ski gloves.
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Old 10-31-05, 08:46 PM
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Your needs are best determined by experimentation. On a recent ride at 40F I had 5 layers on my torso, and 3 layers on my arms and kneehigh skier socks under nylon tights. The wind blast cut through the arms at above 20mph but otherwise I was ok. Another rider had on shorts, a SS jersey with one polypro layer underneath (also SS) and standard bike socks, shoes and gloves and said he felt fine. Depends on how much Inuit blood you have. Performance has $15-20 velcro toe covers for shoes that work down to 40F for me, below 40F I switch to full shoe covers but they get hot above 55F. I like vests, and avoid windblock arm coverings til low 30sF because sweating is increased with these. You start to need heavy duty wind blockers for exposed parts in the 20F range. Balaclavas and skull caps are too hot for me above 20F. Fleece head bands do the job below 45F and can be switched to sweat bands when the temp goes up. Hands, I use polypro liners under standard cycle gloves to the mid 40sF and then go to full finger insulated gloves about 40F. Below 32F mittens or lobster claws are essential, and heavy mittens below 20F. Pull on sleeves for arms and legs are removable alternatives for those days that start out cool and warmup and are cheaper than tights but marginal below 40F for me. I like fleece vests under nylon windblock vests and have several grades of fleece. Below 40F things like flaps behind the zippers on vests or jackets, turtle neck undershirts and tights with windblock fronts start to look appealing. www.icebike.com is an interesting site and there is a winter riding forum below on this site.
Steve

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Old 10-31-05, 11:14 PM
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helmet covers are great. They go on and off slicker'n'snot, and provide about 10 degrees of comfort range all by themselves. At 30F, you need the whole booties, and leg warmers will not be adequate.
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Old 10-31-05, 11:23 PM
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Originally Posted by lws
helmet covers are great. They go on and off slicker'n'snot, and provide about 10 degrees of comfort range all by themselves. At 30F, you need the whole booties, and leg warmers will not be adequate.
Helmet covers are great ... but the one problem I have with them is that they don't cover my ears and my ears tend to get very cold. I sometimes use a headband to solve that problem ... but sadly I seem to have lost my good one.
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Old 10-31-05, 11:33 PM
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Originally Posted by sch
On a recent ride at 40F I had 5 layers on my torso
Different strokes and all. At 40F I have a single layer on all around with ear warmer headband. Below freezing I add one more layer. A shell over that with ski gloves on hands and toque on my head and I'm good down to about 0 F. If it's windy, I have a full face mask.

The limiting factor for me is mostly my feet -- I'm not equipped to keep them warm below zero, but I've only ridden in temps that cold once so I don't generally need toe warmers or electric insoles like some of my friends in Canada and Alaska use.

If you're not an experienced winter rider, you really need to check out the
Icebike website and join the mailing list.
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Old 11-01-05, 04:07 AM
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I live in Florida now so it is not very often that I ride in weather below 40 degrees. Sometimes, it does happen that I ride in weather below freezing. But I don't get that "opportunity" every year.

I find that below 40 degrees, it is nice to cover all your exposed skin. I use a neoprene face mask at those temperatures.

Also, the feet always seem to get cold first. Shoe covers work well down to the mid 40s or so. But lower than that something more substantial is nice. I use neoprene booties over the shoes for greater warmth.

For the hands, polypro glove liners are nice at warmer temperatures. If it gets colder, I use a glove over them. At 40 degrees and below, I put on wool mittons with a nylon shell.

For the head, one can layer balacavas.

For the upper body, long sleeved jerseys and at cold temperatures a jacket works well. For the legs, layering tights works well. For cold temperatures, it is nice to have a pair of tights with that windcover front of nylon.

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Old 11-01-05, 08:54 AM
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Around here we are capable of 20 below and sometimes worse. Wool is the mainstay if you don't want your skin to turn gray and flake off painfully. As stated above, experiment with what works for you. Somebody else's 'best' may not be best for you. Find what works and stick with it until something better comes along. If it get's bad, getcha a wool mackinaw and laugh at the thin-bloods afraid to ride that day...
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Old 11-01-05, 10:14 AM
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It's been in the mid 30's and low 40's on the morning end of my commute lately. I wear a long sleeve dri-fit alertshirt and a thin but windproof GoLite shell on top, over baggies, knee warmers and regular cycling socks. Once the temps went into the 30's I added a PI Thermafleece Headband to cover my ears. I have yet to switch to my full finger PI riding gloves, but I do notice that my fingers start definitely start to complain the lower that it gets into the 30's. I don't ever get cold and am sweating a bit under the shell by the time that I complete my 8 mile commute into work. As it gets colder I will a base layer, and switch to tights and thicker wool socks. I'll definitely switch to my full fingered gloves and likely use a PI microsensor skull cap as well. The last step for me is to add a balaclava and thicker jacket, but the only once it gets down into the low 20's and teens.
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Old 11-01-05, 09:44 PM
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The teens is as low as I've ridden in.

I like to go the cheap route when I can. On the feet, if it's down to the teens, I have a slightly large pair of shoes that I will use a couple pair of socks with and some baggies over the toes between the pair. Work suprisingly well. If it's warmer, like in the 30's, just some baggies over socks in my normal cycling shoes.

For the hands, in the 30's some half fingered mittens with the part that flips back and forth over the fingers. If it's colder, I have various regular winter gloves that work. Or I might get a thin pair of gloves to slide under the mittens.

On the head, a regular ole balaclava under the helmet.

Otherwise, layer it.
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