Get your clothing right and the winter shouldn’t be a time to be feared, get it wrong and a long ride can turn into a session of survival. Conditions can quickly change, especially with a serious drop in temperature should you get caught out in the rain. The fact that you’ll likely be further from home as your rides get longer means it’s crucial to make sure you’re adequately dressed for the occasion.
Layering garments will mean that you have more options to regulate your body temperature depending on the conditions throughout the ride, as opposed to just one thick layer. Don’t underestimate the function of a quality base-layer. Whilst an old t-shirt may appear to do the job it’ll soon be saturated and cold with sweat, a base-layer is designed to quickly wick sweat from your body and transfer it away from your skin keeping you dry and comfortable.
Look for a mid-layer that is breathable yet offers protection where needed, maybe in the form of wind-stopper panelling on the chest and arms. A full-zip and high collar are also welcome attributes to consider. A lightweight gilet can be used to give a final layer of protection, easily removed and stowed in a rear pocket should you become too warm. As the temperature drops tights may replace shorts and leg-warmers with shoe covers and gloves protecting extremities the closer the mercury gets to zero.
One item that’s worth it’s weight in gold (actually it’s worth a lot more than that) is a lightweight rain cape. Look for something that’s seam-sealed to prevent water getting through any stitching and easily packable. Gone are the days of a rain-jacket looking like a cagoule. Clothing technology nowadays means you can have a waterproof that’ll fend off the elements without the bulk or weight of the past.