Winter rides can feel like peace or suffering.
If the colder conditions have you rethinking your usual morning commute … or missing out on those afternoon miles you fit in after a long day, know that you are not alone. It is no secret that overall exercise and activity decrease during Winter, especially Outdoor activities subjected to the cold, wet and icy conditions.
Nonetheless, there are many benefits to maintaining a consistent riding schedule during the colder months, so here are a few steps to help you stay warm while you brace for the Winter on two wheels.
1. Layer Up!
I am sure you have heard this time and time again … and for good reason! Layering up is such an effective method to regulate your temperature on those especially chilly days, helping you fight back any variations in weather.
Starting with a warm and “dry” base layer is essential. You will often see the pro’s or more serious cyclists wearing nylon or polyester based fabrics. This is attributed to the main functions the Base Layer must serve:
- Provide considerable warmth and protection from wind and rain
- Must be water resistant and breathable, to prevent sweat from saturating the body
Your Outer Layer(s) will be your first line of defense. As you begin riding, your body will naturally start to heat up. Your Outer Layer serves to protect you from the brunt of cold wind and wet conditions, so your body can naturally regulate temperature underneath.
Outer Layers may be shed or added as you warm up or cool down, so make sure you have a way to store any extras during the ride.
Avoid Overdressing, as this leaves you just as at risk for cold-related illnesses as under-dressing. Being slightly cold before your ride is usually a good indication that you are dressed appropriately. The balance is not an exact science and you will refine your standard wardrobe as you ride more often.
2. Protect your Extremities
Though research has dispelled the myth that we lose most of our heat through our Head, a scientific study by the University of Wollongong in Australia confirmed that blood flow to the extremities is reduced when cold, to prioritize flow to the major organs.
Wear a thin wool cap to protect your head and ears, as these areas are more sensitive to the cold. This tip is most likely self-evident. Those colder days may have you reaching for a Balaclava or a scarf, however, I have been able to manage most rides with a tightly zipped jacket and a long beanie.
Do not forget to insulate your feet. Though I have not had many rides where the cold has been rough on my feet, it does not hurt to take extra caution to insulate with appropriate socks, especially if you intend to ride in wet conditions. Just make sure not to overcrowd your shoes, as this could cause circulation issues.
Wear Gloves! When its cold outside, your hands will reach warp speed far before you hit 15mph. Without sacrificing maneuverability, find yourself a good pair of insulated gloves. Frozen hands will quickly end any ride.
3. Pre Ride Warm Up/Workout
A Pre-Ride Warmup/Workout can be your secret weapon
15 minutes of brief exercise really helps increase blood flow and will warm you up just enough to have you looking forward to the colder temperature outside. I have also found it to be a great Motivator as well.
Most of us have managed just fine during the Winter months. There are only a few extra steps we must take as cyclists.
- Become intentional about your attire and Layer Up
- Take extra measures to protect your Head, Hands
- Add a Pre-Ride routine to warm yourself up and motivate you for the ride.
If you have any great tips for making those colder says a little easier, feel free to comment below.