Winter Tip #3: Bundle Up In Layers
Living in Colorado, we all know how important it is to layer clothing in order to deal with the temperamental weather. Effective layering becomes an even trickier skill to master when you start riding a bike in winter conditions, as it could make or break your ride. While your first instinct could be to bundle up as much as possible before heading outdoors, that could lead you to overheat once you start pedaling. On the other hand, not wearing enough protection could lead to a miserable ride and even serious injuries. Walking the fine line between freezing and over-heating is easily solved with a little knowledge on the best way to layer up.
Below are some tips for winter riding clothing, taken from personal experience of our team and also from a couple different bike blogs: Bicycling In Winter by John Allen and The Ultimate Bike Commuter's Guide to Winter Cycling by Mr. Frugalwoods.
First of all, wear a helmet.
Depending on the temperature outside, wear a headband, a warm skullcap, or a fleece hat underneath your helmet.
Your face might need extra protection if temps are below freezing. Some kind of face mask would be good for that.
Rain, snow, wind, and sun reflecting off snow can all impair your vision while riding. Sunglasses, clear glasses, and ski goggles for the most wintry of days are all good options.
Start with a warm yet thin base layer and build light shirts and jackets on top of that. Since one of the biggest challenges is to stay warm without holding too much moisture (both snow/rain and sweat), choose your fabrics wisely.
Wool is best because it can insulate even when yet, unlike cotton. Synthetic fabrics are good to repel moisture, but don't do you any favors when trying to stay warm.
Make sure your layers are flexible and fully covers your torso (especially while bending forward in your riding position)
Your legs are the engine of your bike, so you have to keep them warm to keep them running. That being said, they can generate plenty of heat so wear what works for you. If temps are really dropping, consider adding a second layer (long underwear or tights) underneath your pants.
Hand protection can also be difficult because you want warmth but you also need dexterity.
In weather that just barely cool enough to need gloves, just find a light pair or some glove liners.
In colder weather add heavier, windproof mittens (mittens can be better than gloves because it pools the warmth from your fingers together).
TIP: One of out B-cycle team members suggests making reusable hand warmers by putting mitten liners and a few small stones in the toaster oven to warm up and then putting the stones inside of the mittens before leaving.
The consensus among most riders is that the shoes you wear need to be windproof, or else your feet will become numb. Wear enough insulation with tall, wool socks and pair them with shoes or shoe covers that block wind and moisture.