It’s very tempting to retreat indoors during Winter, and re-emerge as Spring arrives, but never fear with the right Winter road cycling tips, you can ride even in freezing temperatures. I should establish what I mean by freezing temperatures. I live in a temperature climate so the coldest Winter mornings in my hometown of Sydney, Australia are around 3 degrees Celsius which I know for some people sounds not so cold. But it is possible to keep riding year-round in many locations around the world.
Here are my tips for enjoying riding even in cold weather:
Invest in good quality kit
Better quality cycling clothing really is warmer. The fabrics have better lining and the companies that make them spend more time on research and development. If you ride once or twice a week you don’t need to own much winter kit to keep yourself warm. And quality cycling kit will last longer than cheap stuff. I have a pair of Velocio long bib knicks that I’ve owned for eight years and they are still going strong. They have a special layer that keeps the cold wind out, and it really works.
I’ve written another post about the importance of layers which you can read in detail here, but this theory also works. On the coldest mornings, I wear a long sleeve thermal underlayer, a long sleeve cycling jacket like this Velocio one, and a gilet on the top. On my bottom half, I wear wool socks and lined long bib knicks. If I get too hot I can take off my gilet, and remove my headband or neck warmer.
Protect your extremities
If you have warm hands, warm feet and keep your exposed skin to a minimum you will definitely be warmer. To keep my feet warm I wear shoe covers. Most of the time I wear toe covers (which in the case of my small feet cover half my foot), but if it’s super cold I sometimes wear full shoe covers. To keep my hands warm I have long-finger gloves of varying weights to suit different conditions.
To keep my neck and head warm, I wear a neck warmer and a headband that covers my ears. I find that in the cold morning air, my ears ache if I don’t protect them from the cold wind. You can also wear a full head covering or cap under your helmet but I find my hair keeps the top of my head warm.
Adjust your riding time
If it’s an option for you, adjust your riding time and consider going out for a ride during the day instead of early in the morning. I do nearly all my riding early in the morning to suit my schedule and to avoid traffic. But I have on occasions ridden in the middle of the day which is certainly warmer and traffic tends to be lighter than during peak times.
Add some indoor riding
Another option is to add some indoor riding to your schedule so you minimise the amount of time you are riding in cold conditions. For some people who live in really cold places, this is the only viable option during the middle of Winter.
Consider different equipment
It’s not necessary where I live, but for some, you might need to consider fitting different tyres to your bike to suit snow or ice, or even a whole different bike to ride in Winter. Some bikes are more suited to the harsh conditions of Winter and will save your warm-weather equipment from being destroyed.