I thought I was the toughest cyclist for surviving an entire winter commute at -5°C and yet my Canadian sister-in-law thinks anything over -10°C is a luxury. So, how do cyclists cope with the cold?
Mudguards, approx £23.99
Just after Christmas is a good time to find a great deal on mudguards. Getting a set of full mudguards keeps the worst of the corrosive winter grit off your precious drive-chain. More importantly, though, it prevents freezing cold road water from being sprayed over your feet – and funnelled up your backside. For less than £30, this budget purchase will make your winter ride much, much more comfortable.
Sailing gloves, £15.99
Sailors are guaranteed to get wet from spray, rain, and swell. And getting wet means getting cold. Also, sailors will need their fingers to function well enough so they can tie knots and haul rope.
This means sailing gloves meet all the requirements of cycling gloves – dexterity and protection from the cold. These neoprene gloves are a steal at just shy of £16, and you’ll be able to change gears with ease.
Bar Mitts, $17 – $30
Hands are particularly susceptible to cold, so you may want to consider bar mitts for extra protection. You can get them for drop handle bars as well as for flat-tops and, in combination with neoprene, you’re guaranteed to manage a warm thumbs-up when you arrive at your destination.
Toe covers, $2.23
Your perforated yak-leather, high-ventilation road cycling shoes now seem a little foolish in sub-zero temperatures, so keep the worst of the whistling wind off your toes with these toe covers. At the time of writing they were on offer at $2.23, and the unforgivingly hot nylon material will fare well.
Merino Knee-highs, €20
Keep the rest of your feet warm with over-the-calf merino socks. Twenty euro may seem expensive, but they’ll last you thousands of miles in the saddle and keep you warm while remaining breathable. The natural anti-bacterial lanolin means you rarely need to wash them, and the wool absorbs little moisture keeping your feet dry – and warm.
Embrocation, from £7.50
Look around for good deals on embrocation and slap it on generously. Cyclists seem to love it or hate it, but it will mitigate the pain of the first 20 miles in sub-zero temperatures. If you can find a decent embrocation at reduced cost, please share in the comments!
Let your hair down, FREE
If you’re blessed with thick long hair, let it down enough so it covers your forehead and ears. Natural fibres provide the best insulation that money can’t buy. Let your leg hair grown, and cultivate a beard. Not only will it keep the wind off your face, you’ll look like a man’s man.
Cycling fast, FREE
Get a good night’s sleep, have a hearty breakfast, drink a hot sugary drink, armour up in your hottest available clothes, then jump on your bike and cycle like hell. Going fast is nature’s way of keeping you warm. Think of the cold weather as air conditioning – no matter how fast you cycle, you won’t break a sweat!