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How to dress for winter cycling

Inappropriate dress is the issue not the weather.

by Atlanta Cycling

Layering is the key to winter cycling comfort and to changing temperatures. Keep in mind that a 20 mph riding speed or wind feels 6-8 degrees cooler. Also, avoid cotton garments which do not wick and tend to stay wet which equals … cold.

70 degrees – add a light, short sleeve base layer under your jersey.

60-70 degrees – add Arm Warmers and a light, packable Vest as needed. Arm warmers easily slide up and down to help regulate temperature, and they are very easy to remove and stuff into a jersey pocket. Below 65 degrees, some suggest 70 degrees, add Knee Warmers to keep the synovial fluid in your knees warm so that this fluid may do its job of lubricating the knee joint. Knee warmers are easily removed as the day warms; they fit easily in jersey pockets; and the lower leg is exposed to cooling air during hard efforts.

50-60 degrees – add a second base layer to the arm warmers and vest or sub a thicker Winter Jersey with vest. In the mid-lower 50’s, Leg Warmers (full length) and dense, cycling specific, Wool Cycling Socks become very comfortable. Thin Glove Liners under one’s summer cycling gloves and Toe Covers are welcomed additions.

40-50 degrees – Cycling Jackets are a great addition in these conditions and below. Look for the features that are important for the distances you ride. Thinner jackets require more layers underneath. Add Ear Bands or Caps with ear flaps under your helmet. Add heavier Winter Gloves and Shoe Covers. Cycling Tights are warmer than leg warmers.
WOOL Base Layer, these are expensive, but you may only need one. Wool is still warmer than synthetics, and it does not hold odors.

Below 40 degrees – Heavy Cycling Jacket with enough layers everywhere to keep warm. Barclavas or an extra ear band around the neck or a scarf to keep your chin/face warm. Lobster Gloves or liners inside your heavy gloves. It’s ok to double up on arm and leg warmers.

Vests – lightweight and easy to stuff into a pocket as the day warms cover a wide temperature range. Easily unzips to vent with the mesh back.

Hands – always buy larger than needed winter gloves so that liners fit inside. The additional air space is warmer. Heavy gloves may be removed as the day warms to leave the rider with liners and summer gloves. Cold arms lead to cold hands so keep the arms warm.

Feet – dense wool cycling socks and windproof shoe covers will keep your feet warm. Keep your shoes slightly looser than summer settings to ensure circulation. Keep your legs warm; cold legs ensure cold feet.

Your body will perform better by being a little too warm vs. being a little too cold.
‘Tis easier to slightly overdress than to conjure up additional layers once out on the road or trail. Enjoy Winter Riding.