Most of us in the northern parts of the country will ride outside as long as we can, before the temperature goes below freezing and the snow arrives. Here are some tips to help make your cold rides more enjoyable. Please note that these riding tips are not for Winter riding . They are meant for temps between 32f – 43f (or 1c – 6c).
Things to consider when biking in the cold:
- It is easy to Overdress . Its easy to put on to much gear when heading out for a fall ride. We all do it. Its cold at the beginning, but keep in mind you will soon be burning energy and producing heat. You want to avoid overdressing, because not only will you be sweating and uncomfortable, but once you decrease your intensity or stop for whatever reason, that warm sweat will quickly become bone chilling. If possible, strip off a layer before you sweat, or unzip your top layer.
- Wear a good base layer . Without your just out for an easy spin through the park, sweating is almost unavoidable. You want to wick away as much sweat as possible using a good base layer. Two popular materials used in base layers are polyester and Merino wool. You want to stay away from anything made of cotton, as it DOES NOT do a good job of dealing with sweat.
- Leg warmers . In my experience, leg warmers are warm enough when riding in these temps (32f – 43f, or 1c – 6c). If after a ride you notice that your knees are very cold to the touch, you are risking the chance of getting sore knees (in my experience, but this is not scientifically proven). I recommend getting a pair of insulated bike tights to avoid problems.
- Make your helmet fit over your hat . Do not try jamming your helmet over your hat. More often then not, you will have to make adjustments to your helmet to fit it over your toque no matter how thin your hat is. Try taking out the helmet padding if it helps. You might also need to adjust the length of your helmet strap.
- Hands and feet get cold the easiest . Invest in good gloves and a set of thermal booties and / or toe covers. Cycling specific gloves are recommended because they have the insulation in the front to block the wind, and are better suited to grip your handlebars so you do not slip. Tip: Wiggle your fingers every few minutes to keep the blood flow going and they wont get cold as easily.
- Experiment and keep track . Until you find whats comfortable for you, write down what you wished on each of your rides and what the temperature was. If you were to warm, strip a layer or replace your jacket with a windbreaker and wear a long sleeve jersey or arm warmers underneath. There are many combinations you can experiment with.
These are just a few tips I use to help keep me warm during those chilly rides. For more tips and help on cycling, visit the Cycling Destination page at http://blog.cyclingdestination.com