Most people store their bikes when the colder months of winter arrive and if you are anything like me the idea of leaving the house in the winter seems like a horrible idea. However, lately the more I look outside my window and see the bike path that leads directly from my house to work the more I’ve wondered if taking my bike out of the shed a month or two early would be such a bad idea.
Whether you are biking for the joy of it, for exercise, or for commuting purposes riding your bike in winter does not have to be as difficult as many people assume it is. In fact, it can be a rather relaxing way to get out of the house, enjoy the brisk winter air, and increase your overall fitness and well-being.
In order to ensure a better winter biking experience this post will provide several tips and tricks on proper clothing, that will keep you comfortable and help get all of us back on the bike before the snow melts.
Cycling in general causes a lot of heat to circulate throughout your body and the winter months are no exception. You can just as easily overheat in winter. That is why it is often more important to focus on preventing exposure of the skin to the wind, wet, and direct cold rather than focusing on the amount of layers you wear.
- Breathable Clothing
Materials like cotton tend to stay moist and can keep you too cold. Wool and synthetic materials are better to wear as an under layer, because they will keep your core both warm and dry. Fleece is also a great option, but is best saved for a particularly cold day when added warmth is needed.
- Long underwear, leggings, and synthetic tights are great at keeping your legs warm.
- Outer Layers
- Making sure your coat or outer most layers are waterproof and windproof will help keep heat contained while battling the wind, snow, and rain.
- A waterproof shoe or boot with enough room for thick socks is vital. Keeping your feet warm and dry is very important in the winter months, and again it is a great idea to avoid cotton which tends to keep your feet damp and cold.
Waterproof mittens or gloves will help keep your hands warm; however, many cyclists have found that lobster claw gloves, like the ones by Sugoi on the right, provide an excellent winter cycling option as well. The lobster claw splits your fingers in to two sections to provide better dexterity, but by keeping some fingers together they also provide the warmth of mittens.
- Keeping your ears and head warm is incredibly important, if you do not have a winterized helmet that already covers your ears, be sure to wear either earmuffs or any other hat or headband under you helmet.
- If you are wearing additional winter headgear underneath your helmet it is important to make sure that the helmet still fits properly. If the fit is an issue and you don’t want to buy a new helmet a helmet cover can also be a great option.
Some cyclists prefer to have their face and neck covered as well. There are many options to keep the winter chill off of these areas.
- A balaclava (or ski mask) provides full head and face coverage, to keep out the cold and maintain heat. Some balaclavas have openings for the eyes; however, the one on the right by Sugoi is completely enclosed to better retain warmth.
- Scarves are excellent ways to control the amount of wind that hits your face or neck and tinted goggles can keep your eyes both protected from the sun as well as the cold.
If you are looking to add some missing items to your winter biking outfit; Sugoi has an excellent clothing line for both male and female cyclist. They even have categorized their products into each season that the apparel is intended for.
Finally, if jumping straight into winter cycling seems a bit daunting, don’t worry. You can get back into winter riding one step at a time with these quick tips:
- Ride your bike just part of the way to your destination, then take the Metro Bus the rest of the way or park your car part of the way and ride your bike for the rest of the distance.
- Don’t feel bad about leaving your bike at home for those especially cold, icy, or snowy days.
- Keep in mind that getting on the bike even just once a week is a great step towards getting in shape for spring!
- Most of all, remember to have fun. Enjoy the winter scenery and fresh air as we move into spring.
What has been your experience with winter biking? What tips and tricks have you learned?
Get out and ride!