Dressing for Winter Riding

Don't give up on your riding because it's winter. You can ride quite comfortably through Atlanta winters. You just need the right gear and a little information on how to use it properly for optimal comfort. Here are a few tips.

First, think of your biking apparel as gear, not just garb. Like any bicycle gear, cycling apparel is designed specifically for cycling. Take a windbreaker for example. For cycling, you want a windbreaker to have a highly visible color, a long tail to cover you when you're leaned over, and you want it to fit closely so as not to flap in the wind. While most any windbreaker will work, one made specifically for cycling works better for cycling. Again, think of your apparel as gear.

Second, understand that the different pieces work together as a system. That is, you will mix and match different pieces depending on the temperature. Gloves are a good example. A glove system would consist of a pair of short-fingered gloves, a pair of glove liners, and a full-fingered winter glove. With three pairs of gloves, you can span a temperature range of thirty degrees in roughly ten degree increments and be comfortable at all temperatures. Check out this chart.

Temperature Glove/s Selection
Above 55* Short-Fingered Gloves
55* to 45* Short Glove w/ Liner Underneath
45* to 35* Winter Gloves
Below 35* Winter Gloves w/ Liner

This system also carries through with tops, bottoms, and head gear.

Third, know that each combination of clothing has a temperature range in which you will be most comfortable. Each layer spans about ten degrees before you start getting a little hot or a little cold in that layer. You'll want to add or subtract a layer in about twenty degree increments.

Fourth, start your ride off a little chilly. If you start out dressed too warmly, you'll be hot after you warm up. You'll warm up as you warm up. (That sounds like Yogi Berra doesn't it?)

You'll need to adjust for other factors besides temperature as you decide which pieces to wear. For example, if it's windy, dark, or overcast, you'll want to dress heavier. Conversely, if it's a sunny day, you'll want to dress toward the lighter side.

Consider how strenuous your ride will be. You'll want to dress warmer for a more casual ride, and dress lighter for a more strenuous one.

What will the temperature be when you finish your ride? Will it be warmer or cooler?

Are you hot or cold natured? Would you rather be hot or cold given the choice?

All this stuff is pretty much common sense. However, it gets a little tricky when you have those borderline temperatures where if you dress one way you'll be hot, but if you dress the other way you'll be cold.

Hopefully these tips will help you figure out which way to go, because now you'll have the right gear, you'll know that your pieces works as a system, that each layer has an optimal temperature range, that you want to start off a little chilly, and finally, you'll know to adjust your piece selection for other factors besides temperature.

Thanks for reading.

Happy Trails,

Mike


Suggested Gear List

Tops

  • Thin Base Layer
  • Long Sleeve Jersey (and/or Arm Warmers)
  • Vest
  • Windbreaker

Bottoms

  • Padded Shorts
  • Leg/ Knee Warmers (and/or Tights)
  • Fleece Tights

Hands

  • Fingerless Gloves
  • Glove Liners
  • Winter Gloves
  • Mega Winter Gloves

Head

  • Ear Band
  • Skull Cap (Works well for guys thin up top.)
  • Face Mask

Feet

  • Wool Socks
  • Toe Warmers

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