How to Ride Year Round

So I mentioned previously in Riding Year Round that I'd write more about how I ride year round.  The first thing one need is some good luck —at least if you live somewhere like Buffalo, by being snow-free or at least cold and dry.  The problem being it's not fun to ride when it's wet and cold.  One or the other is fine, but not both.  Plus that kind of weather really takes its toll on your bike because of all the grit and grime.  It does a really nice job of wearing out all those lightweight, expensive bits.  The other problem is that wet and cold can also mean ice.  Not a good thing when you're rolling along on two wheels that are only about 3/4 of an inch wide.

So let's assume that it's cold, but not wet.  Yeah, lets go out and play.  But first you need to definitely have the proper clothes.  To call good cycling clothes expensive is a huge understatement.  Thus most people do like I did and buy the affordable stuff and improvise until you splurge once on the good stuff.  Then you learn how much better it really is.  So over the course of years you slowly build up a collection of good stuff and then start replacing it as it wears out.  Oh, if you're looking to save money forget about taking up cycling as a sport.  They are completely incompatible.

Anyhow, like any outdoor activity it's best to dress in layers.  The colder it is, the more layers.  This allows you the ability to regulate your body heat conditions change.  At this point I feel I can ride down to somewhere in the mid-20's although I believe I've only actually done about 30°F…not counting wind chill.  On it's own wind chill is bad enough, but on a bike you're going to generate your own because you're moving.  And if you let yourself get cold the wind will quickly sap your energy…to the point you could be putting yourself at risk.  This is something I'm always very careful to avoid.  You can always unzip or strip off layers if you're too hot.  But if you're bundled up and cold, you're asking for trouble.

So for me I have an inventory of items I typically wear when it's cold:

  • cycling shorts, preferably bibs
  • short-sleeved cycling jersey (with great wicking ability)
  • polypro long-sleeved base layer undershirt
  • long-sleeved polypro turtleneck
  • long-sleeved fleece lined jersey
  • fleece lined tights
  • a second pair of fleece lined tights
  • polypro socks
  • Gor-Tex socks
  • cycling shoes
  • shoe covers
  • neoprene/fleece hat
  • polypro glove liners
  • full-finger medium weight gloves
  • My shiny new Sugoi Invertor jacket
I got the new jacket from my parents for Christmas and have worn it just once.  But I can say I forsee getting lots of use out of this: Sugoi Invertor Jacket - front Sugoi Invertor Jacket - back

It's super warm and uses Sugoi's FireWall Fabric.  Basically it feels sort of like wearing a wetsuit, which was strange at first.  But once I started using it was great.  It's very warm and it stretches with you.  This is a big improvement over my old HellyTech (Gor-Tex knockoff) jacket.  That was cut for cycling, but it wasn't form fitting.  Nor did it insulate at all.

The only real issue I have at this point is I have a hard time keeping my feet warm.  This is problem for me off the bike in the winter, but it's worse on the bike where thin mostly plastic cycling shoes are bolted to the pedals.  Which is great for pedaling efficiency, but it acts as a big heat sink on your feet.  Thus the one item I'd still like to acquire is a pair of winter cycling shoes.  The problem there is that there aren't that many options available and they are expensive.  But it's moving up my "want" list and this might be the year…or at least one can hope.
January 29, 2008 @ 12:57 pm | Category:
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