When wintertime hits, many people think they have to put away their bike for the season, but that isn’t the case! You can still have a ton of fun on your bicycle, you just have to be prepared for the elements.
One of the best ways to make sure that you can handle the chill is by having versatile gear and also layering the items that you are wearing. You will want to dress in a way that allows you to be warm while also giving a free-range of movement. Don’t forget that the act of riding will naturally warm up your body which means you may end up shedding a layer or two after you start pedaling.
Mild Weather in the 60-70 Degree Range
While these temperatures are still fairly warm, the wind coming off the ocean waves can make it feel slightly chilly. You may want to consider an extra lightweight layer that can be removed when you are warmed up but will keep you from feeling the chill. You can add a long-sleeved shirt or just a set of arm warmers to keep you toasty. If you feel good except for when the wind blows, try a wind vest to block the gusts. The key to these layers is to keep them very lightweight so that they are easy to take off, and fold-up into a basket or pocket if you start feeling a little too balmy.
Mid-Range Weather in the 50-60 Degree Range
When the temperatures drop below sixty, you will definitely start to feel a little crispness in the air. This might be the type of weather that makes you want to break out your lightweight wind jacket. This will keep your arms and your core warm. A good option is a convertible jacket where the sleeves can be removed as needed. That way you can have the wind vest for the above 60 weather and the lightweight jacket for the below 60 weather.
Chilly Weather in the 40-50 Degree Range
When the weather dips below 50, you are going to want to find a nice winter hat that can be worn under your helmet and will cover your ears. There are winter hats made specifically for cycling, but a regular knit hat can work just as well if it isn’t too bulky. You will also want to add a base layer underneath that lightweight jacket. While shorts might have been okay up to this point, you will want to break out the leg warmers when the mercury starts slipping in the 40-50 degree range. Gloves will also be a necessity.
Cold Weather in the 32-40 Degree Range
A lot of people will find that these temperatures are just too cold for riding, but if you are one of the brave souls that is dedicated to your bicycle no matter the chill, you can tough it out with the proper gear. Layering will be the key factor in staying comfortable. Switch from your lightweight windbreaker jacket to a heavier cycling jacket. Keep the cycling tights on, and add a pair of comfy and warm wool socks to keep your toes from freezing. If you have a a pair of “lobster” cycling gloves, you may want to add those to your gear as well.
Freezing (Literally!) Weather Below 32 Degrees
If you are cycling in this weather, you are truly dedicated! You are going to want to add another base layer or two to keep your core warm, and you will probably want to opt for two sets of cycling tights for your legs. Your regular cycling shoes aren’t going to cut it at these temperatures even with the wool socks. Instead, you are going to need a winter style shoe that can keep your feet warm and toasty. As you dip down into these types of temperatures, frostbite is a serious threat. Make sure that you are keeping things covered up and protected from the bitter cold.
It is good to remember that your body may need more or fewer layers to keep warm depending on your exertion level, whether or not the sun is out, and the wind chill factor. Be safe, and make sure that you have the gear that you need. If you start feeling like you can’t feel your fingers or toes, it may be time to head into the nearest restaurant to warm up or call in Uber to get you back home!
If you need to update your winter gear stash, stop by Shore Brake Cyclery and check out our cycling items.