2020 has been a year like no other — so how about making some last-minute resolutions? Like many others, you may have been riding your bike more this year (or started riding again after many years) and you are considering continuing through the winter months. Whether your ride is a commute or for pleasure, the most important thing to consider for winter bicycling is clothing.
The unusually warm temperatures of early November this year might have enticed you to ride a bit longer but let’s face it, shorter days and frost in the morning make for a nippy ride. The good news is you can survive the cold on your bike if you are dressed properly. SABR recently hosted a Zoom session with year-round bike commuter Parkie Boley and SABR board members who shared their experience in cold temperatures. Here are the main tips and tricks discussed during the session.
First the noggin! Think safety and make sure your helmet adapts easily to different layers. Begin with a headband (temperatures around 40 F) or a light cap, and then add a cap (temp in 30s) and for colder weather, add a mask or a balaclava. Riding in the cold is all about the layers.
Then your upper body. Start with a light undershirt (40s temps) or a thick insulated one, followed by a wool jersey on top. Add a high-viz vest or a thick jacket and a windbreaker on top. Those come in light or insulated versions. You want comfort and flexibility in your movements. Some of us sweat faster than others, think ahead! It’s actually better to dress a bit on the light side before starting the ride as you tend to warm up fast. SABR Board member Andy Goodell — who commutes from Dover to Portsmouth — uses a panier to carry his extra layers.
The legs! Some winter riders like to wear leggings with windbreakers, just be careful around your chain if they’re too baggy. Add a second pair of socks and covers or even fully insulated booties for your shoes.
Hands. Finally, keep your fingers warm with lightweight gloves (in the 50s), and add mid-weight, lobster claw gloves or even pogies (thick neoprene mitts over the handles). Parkie recommends also wrist warmers for additional comfort.
Most local bike shops carry winter clothing and will be happy to assist you in your quest of the perfect jacket or shoe covers. The bike shops are listed on our website at: https://seacoastbikes.org/local-bike-shops/
You can also watch the recording of this zoom session at https://seacoastbikes.org/winter-zoom-workshop-the-recording
See you on the road this winter!