Cold and dry
Since the top half of your body is static when cycling this means that’s it’s very hard to generate heat. Therefore, in cold conditions you need to look for clothing that will help maintain your body’s own heat for as long as possible.
Exposing as little skin will help as will making sure that the kit you choose is fully up top the job of protecting you in the best way. Naturally more protection here means bulkier clothing so make sure that it really is cold enough to be wearing your extreme weather gear before you step out in full winter attire.
Once again, the most important layer here is your base layer. A thicker, long sleeved base layer will be a good place to start and will help to quickly transfer sweat to your mid-layer to keep you dry and comfortable. Using a base, mid and outer layer will enable you to regulate your temperature better throughout the ride, offering more comfort than one thick layer.
A good soft shell can act as a really useful barrier against the cold while also offering varying levels of breathability depending on the fabric or design – for example look for vents to allow air to flow and a high neck to keep out the wind. As you’ll be wearing gloves it’s also good to check how easy the rear pocket is to access. Check if it’s a traditional three pocket design or single zipped pocket configuration.
As your legs are constantly moving they tend to feel the cold less than the rest of your body but when it’s very cold you’re certainly going to benefit from the extra protection that a pair of tights will bring. Check for fabric thickness and exactly what the intended purpose of the garment is as you’ll be able to find tights for every eventuality from cold to wind to rain.
How far you go with your accessory wardrobe will broadly depend on how much you feel the cold and what weather you’re prepared to ride in. If you’re planning on riding all year around then having an assortment of extras including a neck buff, beanie, ear warmers, thicker gloves and neoprene overshoes will go one level beyond your normal winter gear.
Although this may seem like a lot to consider it’s best to build things up over time, concentrating on what you need for the current period of the year and adding to it as the seasons change. You’ll soon learn what works best for you and if there are any essentials missing from your kit bag.
I hope this helps. If you need any further advice then feel free to contact me on Twitter (@cottydale) and I’ll do my best to help.
Ride safe and enjoy!