It’s getting a little chillier these days! Picking the right gear for colder conditions can be a challenge, as we have to balance staying warm with staying dry. Seeing as the colder months have begun to set in, we’ve put together our top recommendations on what to wear to make riding in the colder conditions a little more bearable. Be sure to keep these in mind before you head out this winter!
Dress In Layers
Layering up might sound obvious, but there are actually two methods to chose from when downing those layers! One involves locking in the heat and keeping the wind out, while the other is staying insulated but allowing moisture to escape. To lock the heat in chose natural fabrics like wool or silk, clothing specifically labeled as windproof and GORE-TEX gloves and shoes/shoe covers. Your aim here is to keep as much body heat trapped as possible and works best for those of us that get that little bit sweatier!
The second method involved allowing sweat to escape before it cools on our bodies and is best for those that don’t sweat much. Go for layers of synthetic fabrics like Capitoline and clothing that has breathable panels which will help release moisture. Avoid cotton as it doesn’t insulate well and won’t wick moisture away efficiently. If the weather is windy, use layers that have a protective windshield – this may not breath as easily as other fabrics but won’t restrict movement like a bulky jacket will.
Our hands and feet are often the first extremities to feel the cold so grab an extra pair of socks and gloves and double up. Use your thiner layer on the inside and a heavier layer on the outside. Consider investing in thermal gloves or socks, which are more tightly knitted and better retain the warmth produced by the body. Chose fabrics that prevent evaporative cooling – which is when sweat cools on the skin making us feel colder. Fabrics like wool, which can absorb more than 30% of its weight in water before it starts to feel wet, will help keep you both warm and dry. We lose up to 10% of our body heat through our heads so be sure to grab a warm hat or balaclava for under your helmet.
Warm Up Before, During & After A Ride
Before hopping on the bike during the colder months, warm up with some hot food or drink. Remember that we burn more calories in colder conditions due to additional resistance from rain, snow and the weight of additional clothing. Try food containing slow- release carbohydrates about 2 to 3 hours before a ride like porridge, eggs on toast, soup and bread or a banana. For when you’re out on the bike bring food that’s easy to open, (even with 2 layers gloves!) like fig rolls, raisins, oat-based energy bars and sports gels. A thermos flask of tea, coffee or soup also makes for a great mid-ride warm-up! Post-cycle, aim for foods that will optimise glycogen re-synthesis and aid muscle recovery such as milk and a banana, a bagel with soft cheese or a chicken sandwich within 30 minutes of finishing your cycle.
Be Safe, Be Seen
Along with the cold, the days are also getting a lot darker, so additional road safety should be at an all time high if you want to get the miles in. Make sure you’re clearly visible to other road users with reflective clothing like a hi-vis vest, armband or belt and your headlights and taillights are fully charged before every ride. Aside from the colour of your reflective clothing, consider if it will be water resistant or windproof. Look at breath-ability, weight, fit and how compact it will be when folded up. For lighting, if you’re cycling in the city aim to have lights that can be seen by others but don’t light up ahead too much. Keep the stronger lights for more rural areas where you do want to illuminate the way ahead.
Don’t Neglect The Sunscreen
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean we need to skimp on the sunscreen! Colder weather can dry out our skin and snow reflects nearly 90% of UV radiation. Always use a protectant like sunscreen or spf moisturiser to help retain moisture.