Winter is here, and it’s time to…
I know it seems like things have been slow here lately. The cold temps and lack of sunlight make it difficult to find time to ride, but this year, we have been on a mission. As far as Cleveland goes, the winter so far has been pretty mild. We have been trying not to be sissies and are trying to ride any day that it’s not raining and the temps are in the 40s. Heck, this week we were riding in the 30s. It seems like the more we do it, the higher our resistance to the cold becomes. In a lot of ways, it’s almost nicer than riding in the sweltering heat of the summer. The trick is to have the right mindset and the right clothes. As Carolyn always says, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” Here’s how we gear up:
At 40 degrees, the wind whistling through your helmet can give you brain freeze! So we wear a very thin knitted cap under ours. It’s pretty much a skull cap and it covers our ears, which is nice. We also have caps called Hot Noggin. They are super warm and made of neoprene and designed to go under a hard hat. They are too warm for temps in the 40s and a real concern is that, while they cover your ears, they are so dense that they greatly restrict your hearing. Dangerous for riding in traffic, for sure. We mostly use them for cross country skiing.
Our torsos are usually layered with a long sleeve wicking shirt, then one of our fleece pull overs. The pullovers have elastic at the bottom which is a nice feature. If its really cold, we can add a layer in between. A lot of times we wear a nylon jacket over the top to break the wind. Very effective.
Down below, we both usually wear bike shorts with a pair of tights over them. Sometimes Carol will add long underwear too. (cuddle duds) When it’s really cold, I’ll wear two pair of socks and Carol will wear a wool pair. I can’t find a wool pair thin enough to fit inside my road shoe, yet thick enough to be effective. I’m sure it’s just because I hate shopping. I always pull my tights on over my socks and let them cover at least half of my foot. Both of us have booties that go over our bike shoes. If I remember right, mine are a just cheap neoprene set from Nashbar, and they really do help. It takes a little getting used to positioning them correctly on the shoes so as not to interfere with your cleats. Mine wrap around my entire shoe. I had another pair before that just pulled over the toe of the shoe, but they were always moving on the shoe and causing trouble with my cleats. The full shoe wrap is much better, IMHO. Carol’s are Pearl Izumi and just go over the toes.
For gloves we just use our regular fingerless road gloves, but we use an old, stretched out pair and we add a 99 cent pair of knit gloves underneath. Works like a charm unless it’s blisteringly cold. It still very easy to shift and brake.
Dressed like this we are good to go, and usually get back home at least a little sweaty.
Oh, don’t forget to keep your lights on your bike. We use ours for those dark and dreary days and with the sun going down so early, it’s easy to get caught out after dark.