Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cold Weather Riding (Is The Worst.)

I will be the first to admit that I rarely qualify for Rule #9. I love the weather everyone else bitches about - the full humid glory of summer. I feel 800% better in the summer.  My joints are happy, I don't have to worry about layers, and it stays light in the evenings so I can do long rides after work. Summer is the best.

Winter can kiss my ass.  I hate riding in the cold - the chapped skin, the runny nose, the layers and layers of sweaty-but-cold clothing. However, I also hate not riding my bike, so it's a necessary evil. I'm usually the person on the group ride who's over-dressed and I rarely regret it. I'd rather be warm, thanks. (I've had people ask me a surprising number of times if I really need that jacket or leg warmers or whatever. Hi, I'm an adult. I've been dressing myself for 35 years. Stop being rude.)

So, like Randy in a Christmas Story, my winter riding preparation is akin to extended deep sea diving. So many layers I can't put my arms down. I will say that a really good jacket is key. My Road Holland Rotterdam jacket (super on sale right now!)  is definitely my favorite bit of winter gear.

I also swear by a Craft base layer, which is something my friend Paula recommended to me. The are expensive but SO worth it. Nothing else even comes close.

My main concern is fingers and toes. I have decent winter gloves, but I'm tempted by this lobster-claw pair of cycling mittens. (Does anyone have a pair?) As for toes, I don't feel like I ride enough in the winter to justify the expense of winter cycling shoes so currently I wear wool socks (SmartWool are great, especially the ski knee-socks) and chemical toe-warmers and toe covers.  As long as my feet are warm, the rest of me generally feels okay.

My toe covers are Pearl Izumi and they suck. I generally really like PI products but the shoe covers I bought are already coming apart at the seams and they don't stay on very well. Suggestions? I'm considering something more cover-y like this:

But... for that price I might as well just invest in winter shoes. Ugh, winter. Such a pain in the ass. What are your winter ride coping mechanisms? (Please don't tell me you loooove riding in the cold because I will shun you.)


  1. Seattle has a pretty mild winter, but it's still not nice to ride in low 40 degree weather with pouring rain. They might still come apart, but I swear by the Endura Road Overshoes that are made of neoprene. I also bought a pair of their winter gloves that I'm loving so far.

    I have been price shopping for a Craft layer, but I've been surviving with a fleece-lined Nike shirt I bought for running. Splurge worthy? Castelli Gabba Jacket - it's mostly waterproof, somewhat wind resistant, and pretty cozy inside. I've been layering that with a thermal vest, and it's gloriously warm. Another nice thing is a balaclava my husband bought me from Nashbar.

    I'm the same as you - as long as my feet are warm, I'm pretty okay, but my feet are not often warm when riding. I seriously looked at the price of battery-warmed socks after a ride the other day and was sufficiently sticker-shocked.

    1. I will check out the Endura Road Overshoes, thank you!

      I found my Craft base layer on Amazon for much less than retail, so keep an eye out there.

  2. I'm a big baby about the cold too and generally keep indoors on the trainer in the cold weather. I wear a very old patagonia quarter zip shirt that is super warm with a Garneau windbreaker and sometimes a middle thin fleece jacket layer (I can't remember the brand, it was part of my kit when I was with a team in MI and I've worn it for almost 10 years). I will suffer through regular tights over tri shorts rather than leg warmers becuase I've never found a pair of leg warmers that actually keep my skin covered at the shorts hem. I only have toe covers for my shoes, but with a warm pack on top of my toes I'm mostly okay. But once it gets into the 50s I pretty much give up outside and dressing like that is only if I've committed to a group ride or a race. I'll take 90 and humid anytime!!

  3. First I want to say I think this blog is awesome. I'm always looking for REAL advice for women riders from women riders. :D

    NJ here and I do some cold weather riding... I've resorted to the trainer lately mostly because of my schedule but partly because of the cold. When it gets below 30, I get a little skiddish. That said, I have a cold fingers problem too... I've resorted to using heavy snow/ski gloves (mine are Spyder) and if it gets really cold and I need something extra, I have enough room to add a thin pair of (Saucony) gloves I use when running in fall/early winter.

    As for the lobster claws, every one I know who has them really aren't thrilled with them. :/

    1. Boo, well money saved on the lobster claws.

      You're braver than me - I have a 40-45 degree rule. Anything below that is just too damn cold. I'm truly a wuss.

    2. Oh, and thanks for the nice comment about the blog!

  4. I have the lobster claws...hands still cold. I think bar mitts (pogies) are the way to go.