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cindy 09-26-03 10:33 PM

Winter Clothing Musts?
I am going to be going through my first winter cycling season. I was wondering if any of you ladies knew of any "must haves" for cycling clothes. I get cold very easily so I am quite concerned-- any suggestions?

Guest 09-27-03 10:05 AM

Yeah- but you're in Texas. How cold does it really get there?

You don't want to overdo it, because then you're going to be too hot and sweaty on your rides. Check with Lotek to see what he does for winter cycling-he lives in Texas too.

I'd suggest a insulation layer, like silk, Thinsulate material, or fleece. You'll need a wicking layer like coolmax or that polyester material that wicks. You'll also need a windproof layer- try the Pearl Izumi jackets- they are thin but really do the job so you're not feeling bulky.

If it's windy, get the arm warmers and leg warmers.
Buy some thicker socks to keep your toes warm.
Get full fingered gloves- you may need a pair of good gloves from performance, and try to get a pair that's windproof.
Get a small scarf- you can get the small round ones that slip around your head and rest on your neck. They make some out of fleece that work well.
You may want to get a skull cap to put around your head to keep your head warm.
Sunglasses- wraparounds are best to keep your eyes from being assulted by strong cold winds.
Long tights- self explanatory.
Overshoes- you can get neoprene overshoes from Performance, and they're great for keeping the feet warm, but if it's not cold enough outside to wear them, you'll just end up with hot, sweaty feet.

The end!


Guest 09-27-03 10:06 AM

P.S. If it's going to rain a lot, get fenders for the front and back tires so you don't get splashed when you go through puddles. And if you will be riding in the rain, some good tough raingear- be sure to get it a couple of sizes too big so you can bundle up under the raingear.

Jean Beetham Smith 09-27-03 04:56 PM

If you are riding at all hard, and winter winds usually make that a given, you will be sweating. Let yourself get sweaty & you will get cold. For temperatures down to 30F, you will need surprisingly little insulation. Your base layer should be a thin, seriously wicking, layer. I tend to prefer coolmax. For my insulating layer, I mostly use a thin wool men's v-neck sweater I got at Costco for $20. I top that with a rain jacket from Jackson & Gibbens. It has lots of ventilation. On the bottom, I have a pair of windfront pants that I got from Title9 that I seriously love on windy, rainy, snowy days. I usually do not wear tights under them until it is into the teens. Like Koffee said, you are more likely to overdress. The 2 expensive items on my list are for the bottom half that is more exposed to the wet: previously mentioned windpants and a pair of sealskinz socks. For your hands, first experiment with some cheaper options. Walmart often has windproof, waterproof, thinsulate insulated gloves in their hunting section. Add a silk or drylete liner glove and these are as warm as the pair of AmFib Lobster gloves I indulged in. My actual favorite combination is cycling half finger glove, topped with a wool glove and the whole thing topped with a leather glove. Clumsy, but warm and easily adjusted as you warm up. If you ride a flat bar bike, you can add "pogies" for serious hand protection, I doubt if you would need that. I also favor wool socks. Don't be scared, if you get too cold you can always turn around and head for home and try another outfit another day.

MichaelW 09-28-03 05:46 AM

Arm and leg warmer tubes are better for conditions which are highly variable, like climbing a mountain. If the temp is going to be constantly cool, then you will be more comfortable in some polyester tights or leggings woorn over shorts. Leggings with padded inserts need to be washed after every ride, so are more trouble.
For the top, you need a long-sleeved inner layer. You dont need cycling features like rear pockets. An outer layer of totally windproof material, polycotton or a microfibre like Pertex.
Extremities need windproofing and feet may need waterproofing with neoprene booties or goretex inner socks, or even waterproof shoes (yes, you dont have to ride in winter using mesh shoes).
Useful items include a neck-warmer tube, and a selection of thin wooolen jumpers, including sleeveless ones. Wool is under-rated as a mid-layer, Ive use it in the cold and rain. Full finger windproof gloves the right thickness, not tooo thick or thin.

Arctic conditions call for balaclavas, ear warmers, lobster gloves, and more extreme kit, but many of us ride in fairly temperate winters, so dont need to go this far.

scubagirl 10-01-03 11:24 AM

Last year was my first winter of cycling here in Texas (Arlington). I got warmer full finger gloves (they dont have the same type padding so I wear them over my summer gloves) fleece lined pants, fleece head band and shoe covers (my toes FROZE). One of my jerseys is way TOO warm so I usually plan on stopping to take it off or starting out a little chilly when I know it will warm up. It may be really cold (for us) when you start but could warm up into the mid 50s quick. I have a light jacket & a vest. I just mix and match. I keep a cycling journal and jot down the temp, what I was wearing and how I felt so I can kind of gauge for next time.

Good luck

Pat 10-05-03 12:35 PM

Well, I have done a fair bit of cold weather riding. I like layering. I prefer polypro for the fabric. At moderately cold, I use polypro gloves, polypro balacava, long sleeved jersey, shorts, and tights and 2 pairs of socks.

As it gets colder, I add more layers as needed. Having neoprene booties is good when it gets below 40 degrees. And a neoprene face mask is good at 35 degrees and colder. And at cold temperatures, I ride with nylon shells (mittens), wool mittens and my polypro gloves under it all.

It does get cold in central Florida. I have had my water bottles freeze. But it doesn't get cold enough to stop my cycling. When I lived in Michigan, I found temperatures below 15 degrees to be pretty marginal. Sure I could ride, but the wind chill made me slow down to the point that I wasn't getting much of a work out. Of course, when it got that cold, I could switch to cross country skiing!

Machka 12-25-03 05:03 PM

It depends a lot on how cold it gets in your area - I've seen some people who think that 45F is cold while I consider that still a fairly warm spring/fall day, and downright hot if we happen to get it in the middle of winter!

If your "cold" temps are around 45F, all you'd need are a pair of tights, a long sleeved jersey and a jacket. If your hands tend to get cold even in warmer temps, you might consider a pair of mini-gloves (those one you can buy for $1 at Walmart) under your regular cycling gloves.

If it gets a bit colder than that, you might consider a sweatshirt over your long sleeved jersey, and possibly light nylon toe covers or booties.

When it gets below freezing, that's when you have to start to get serious about what you wear out there.

Last February I rode a century. The ride started out at -32C/-25F and reached a high for the day of -25C/-12F. Here's what I wore:

- balaclava
- headband
- scarf
- helmet (Bell)

- sports bra
- longsleeved Coolmax jersey (MEC)
- longsleeved fleece jersey (Nashbar)
- sweatshirt
- "fall/spring" vented jacket (a fabulous jacket I got from Nashbar - but I see they don't sell it anymore . . . pity!)

- mini-gloves
- windproof mitts or ski gloves (I had to change these every so often to let one pair dry a bit) (Canadian Tire Where else! )

- cycling shorts (Nashbar or MEC)
- tights - fleece lined (Nashbar - very comfortable in cool weather)
- non-cycling knee length shorts
- windpants

- "metallic" socks
- wool socks
- Sorel boots

I also used little heat packs in my boots to help keep my feet warm.

On less cold days, I wear my regular cycling shoes with neoprene booties. I did a 200K brevet in November 2002 that started at -12C/10F and peaked at 0C/32F with wool socks, regular shoes, and neoprene booties. I used those heat packs for the first 50K on that ride too.

I don't like to wear anything over my face - even in the cold temps I've mentioned above (and I've commuted to work in temps down to -40 too) - because scarves, masks, etc. cause my glasses to fog up, and I don't think that covering my face is really all that necessary. The skin on your face is pretty tough because it is exposed to the weather all the time. In the really cold temps, if I'm going to be out there for a few hours or more, I will smear my face with Johnson's & Johnson's Daily Protection Cream to prevent frostbite.

lala 01-23-04 10:45 PM

good thread. keep it going.
i was surprise how warm i was saturday:
low 20s, some good wind at times, some snow.

i was out for hours (with a couple of stops):
undershirt, wool sweater, "civilian" adidas jacket (fleece with water resistant outer), silk long undies, thick, flannel lined cargo type pants, two sock: cotton, then wool, big ass boots, and two gloves, thin full bike gloves, and those flappy, poly cut out gloves with the mitt over top.
my hands were sweating...
and i was generally comfy. the ride was only 12 miles, but i was wishing i'd dig out the bike shorts...

Chris L 01-24-04 03:44 AM

Since your posting from Texas - which I understand has a similar climate to Queensland (i.e. obscenely hot perpetually), I will point out something that may not have been mentioned yet - Sunscreen. I am not joking - some of my worst ever cases of sunburn have occurred during our so-called "winter".

Guest 01-24-04 09:24 AM

Even in the cold places, you still are susceptible to sunburn- it gets very sunny here, and people tend to think that sunburns happen only in the summer, but if you're out long enough in the winter, beware of the face!

A big problem with Australia is also the ozone- I wore sunscreeen year round when I was there, even on cloudy, winter days. You can't afford not to over there.


Offroad team DK 02-09-04 03:33 PM

I've had trouble keeping my feet warm when it dips below 3C, wearing wool coolmax socks, specialized MTB shoes, and neoprene shoe covers, so need to keep trying new options. I tend to overdress the body and wind up sweaty and chill prone, but took the advice of my (wonderful) bf last Sunday and wore a sleevless craft skinlayer, a lightweight microfleece, and a pearl Izumi windbreaker jacket. On the legs I wore a pair of shorts with a Giordana bib tight over. It was the perfect combination for 3C. I was worried as we set out, thinking that it all felt too light and thinly layered, but as we pedaled on (on our Cannondale tandom :-)) I felt warm and most importantly, dry. Sweat is the real culprit. By the end of our two hour ride, I was still warm, dry, and fit for another two hours... if only!

neon 04-23-04 09:37 AM

I found a good rule of thumb on the IceBike site ( if your torso is slightly chilly in the outside temperature before you start riding, you are dressed about right. If your torso is already warm, then you're going to get overheated. Works for me.

Re. coolmax and its polypro relatives: I'm getting to hate 'em. They *don't* make me feel dry, and they start to stink the moment your sweat starts drying. Just discovered that the Rivendell Bicycle Works (a cool old-school manufacturer in CA) sells lightweight wool cycling jerseys. I'm a natural-fiber fan and I'm looking forward to testing one out.

I'm pretty low-tech, and my usual attire for commuting the past winter in Cambridge MA, when we had a couple of below-zero cold snaps, was
-lightweight fleece balaclava under helmet
-wool scarf around lower half of face
-cotton turtleneck
-heavy wool sweater
-down vest on really cold days
-my only bike jacket, which is a waterproof shell w/pit zips (usually open)
-spandex tights under my pants on really cold days
-wool pants
-wool ragg sox
-low hiking-type sneakers
-thinsulated full-finger gloves (REI, but aside from the intelligently-placed reflector stripes I don't recommend them)
-with thin polypro liners under them on really cold days
(and my fingers *still* froze, the gloves are the only thing that I haven't worked out yet. Next winter I plan to get convertible mitten/fingerless gloves and wear a liner under them.)

vrkelley 04-25-04 08:24 PM

I'd like a thin shirt as a base layer or for summer.
Anyone know a website that sells cool-max long sleeve shirts. Just a simple shirt?

Machka 04-26-04 08:27 PM

What about some of these:

Jean Beetham Smith 04-27-04 07:39 PM


Originally Posted by vrkelley
I'd like a thin shirt as a base layer or for summer.
Anyone know a website that sells cool-max long sleeve shirts. Just a simple shirt? usually has Duofold CoolMax tee, long sleeve ~$15, short ~$11. I use the long sleeved white ones under jerseys to replace sunscreen that I sweat off very quickly.

vrkelley 04-28-04 10:35 PM

Wow Machka and Jean these are great sites thank you!

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