As I pressed down on the door handle and swung the door inwards towards me the cool crisp chill of a winter morning hit me square in the face. The white coating of frost was yet to glisten as the sun was having a lie in. I wished I was still in bed!
I walked to the car knowing it would need the best part of 5 minutes to thaw out on the inside as I walked around the outside scraping away at the windows. As I sat in the drivers seat waiting for the last part of the windscreen to clear I started thinking about an upcoming bike ride with my friend Leigh. Saturday afternoon was the time and the forecast said it would be pretty chilly with a decent chance of rain. Ah the joys!
I would need to dig to the bottom of my cycling clothing draw and find my nice warm merino wool base layers from DHB. The fleece lined bib tights were already in circulation and the Endura race cape came with me on every ride from August onwards just in case.
A Chilly Learning Curve
When I first started cycling regularly I definitely didn’t have the right gear for winter riding. Many times I would arrive at work with ice cold hands and feet, the chilly air sitting on my chest just waiting to turn into a cough that I would keep with me for a couple of weeks.
It seems stupid how I kept doing that for so long but once I put my hand in my pocket and purchased some decent clothing my commutes and winter rides were a lot more enjoyable.
Basic Cycling Equipment In Winter
I don’t do so well in the cold so being layered up properly is essential for me. As much as I love being on my bike I’m not sure there are many worse cycling feelings then being many miles from home and not being able to feel your hands and feet. Add a chesty cough to that combo and you could be in for a very miserable bike ride!
Let’s make a little list of clothing that I would recommend if you’re planning to ride through the winter. I will only say this once as regular readers will know I say this a lot – you get what you pay for! I’ll start at the bottom and work my way up.
- Overshoes: Unless you want to buy new, winter specific, cycling shoes then buy a pair of overshoes. They are not that expensive and they will keep the cold air from freezing your little toes into ice cubes and most are waterproof as well. Just pull them over your boots and ride as normal. Click here for a look.
- Winter Socks: Merino wool socks are warm and breathable and coupled with a pair of overshoes they will keep your feet toasty warm in all but the worst of weather. If you shop around you can always find some in the sale.
- Bib Tights: If you can afford a nice fleece lined pair then do it. Some bib tights also have a section that runs a little further up your torso and then zips closed. This will give you a little more warmth up top if required. However, if you have a long sleeve base layer, a jersey, and a jacket, you probably won’t need this extra bit. DHB have some on offer just now so click here and treat yourself.
- Long Sleeve Base Layer: I have a couple of different versions on the go at the moment. I have the DHB Merino Wool Base Layer and also the DHB Polartec Base Layer. Both do a great job of keeping my core nice and warm but are also breathable so I don’t turn into a sweaty cold mess by the end of my ride.
- Long Sleeve Jersey: I have plenty of these and they are great for winter riding to layer up or even a summer evening ride without a base layer. There are dozens of brands and a huge selection to chose from. With this choice comes a large variation in price but click here for some reasonable priced DHB gear that works very well. Tried and tested by yours truly!
- A Rain Cape: Very lightweight, you can scrunch it into a pocket if the weather stays dry and not too windy, but should the weather be horrible you’ll be very grateful you spent some money on this bit of kit! There are loads or heavier duty cycling jackets on the market but due to their size and weight you are committing to wearing it from start to finish or you need a backpack to store it. Spend a few pennies more and get something like my Endura Race Cape. Waterproof, blocks the wind out entirely, and you barely know you’re wearing it.
- Skull Cap: Sits snug on your head underneath your helmet to keep some heat in. Buy a waterproof one if you think you need it. Can be bought for just a few pounds if you want a basic one. Le Col do a very nice one that served me excellently on a recent bikepacking trip. Pricey but good so click here and take a look.
- Snood / Neck Buff: You can get snoods that have a skull cap / balaclava style hat built in. Pretty handy bits of kit. However, if that’s not for you then you can spend £5 and get a simple snood / neck buff that will stop that cold air rushing down your neck and into your base layer.
- Gloves: You can go on Wiggle or Amazon and see loads of gloves from £10 to £100+. Lots of them claim they are windproof and waterproof. Many of them lie if you are really caught in a downpour. I struggle keeping my hands and feet warm but these Hors Categorie Deep Winter Gloves from Le Col are so good I have 2 pairs just in case. In torrential rain the water gets in. Find me some gloves that don’t let the water in… On the coldest of mornings I arrived at work and could still feel my fingers. For that alone they are worth every penny. Complete a Le Col Strava challenge and use your £50 off voucher to buy some. That’s what I did!
If you have a setup that contains some version of the above items then you are going to be a lot warmer on the bike and enjoy those poor weather rides a lot more. Always remember – it might not feel to cold standing on your doorstep but once you get pedalling and creating your own wind resistance it can get cold really quickly!
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