WINTER CYCLING ESSENTIALS
Winter weather is finally upon us and cycling in the winter should be just as much fun as in summer –isn’t that right? It’s of course more fun when you’re are warm and dry. The more enjoyment you have, the more you’ll do it and that applies to children and grown-ups alike.
Some young cyclists and triathletes know exactly what they need to ensure they’re warm and dry throughout the winter, but in my experience, this is quite a rarity. You are sure to hear protestations from your kids the next time you suggest a quick ride ‘just for fun’, if the last ride was cold and miserable!
With modern technical clothing, staying warm and dry on the bike, no matter how bad the weather, has never been easier. I’m going to give you some advice on choosing the correct clothes, getting your layering right and other practical tips for staying warm through the worst of the British Winter.
Recommended Winter Cycling Kit List
Let’s start with kit! At Tri-Force Juniors, we realise that you don’t want to break the bank when your child trains with us. That said, we do require that your child comes prepared for adverse weather conditions. Please make sure that when they come for cycling sessions in future, that they have the following (or equivalent):
- Full Finger Gloves – It’s important to keep your hands warm for full control of the handlebars, gears and brakes
- Base layer – Adding a base layer helps with both insulation and moisture-wicking for total temperature control
- Long-sleeved Jersey – Use a jersey under a jacket in really cold weather.
- Jacket – Wind- and water-proof jackets ward off the elements to keep you warm and dry
- Tights – Extra warmth for your legs without restricting movement
- Hat – Slim beanies fit nicely under helmets to keep your head warm too
Below are some tips for young and adult cyclists alike:
Protect your head, face and neck
Non-vented road helmets can keep your head warmer, especially when paired with a windproof skullcap or traditional winter cycling hat. Cycling glasses with clear or light enhancing lenses protect your eyes from snow blindness, spray and drying cold winds. A snood can also keep your neck warm and can be pulled over your mouth and nose if it gets really cold!
Hands – Gloves
If your fingers are freezing, then squeezing those brake levers and even holding the bars properly could prove tricky. Ditch the woolen gloves, which will get damp and let the wind through, and invest in a pair of full finger gloves. Look for gloves which aren’t too bulky but have some insulation and are wind and waterproof. Make sure they’re not too tight, as this can limit circulation and cause your hands to become chilled. Seal the cuffs of your jacket go over the cuffs of your gloves, as this will keep rain and cold air out and trap warm air.
Body – Base Layers and Thermals
If you want to keep warm on your bike in the winter, woolly jumpers won’t do the trick – they’ll just make you sweat. Always start with a close-fitting wicking base layer. If it’s really cold you might want to get one with a windproof front for added protection. Lastly, you need a wind/waterproof shell layer. For cold but dry days, a lightweight windproof or gilet might be enough, or you could opt for a softshell if you want a bit more breathability. If rain is forecast a packable waterproof can be a ride-saver.
Bib tights provide extra protection against the elements for your lower torso and, most importantly, keep your lower back covered when low on your drops. Look for ones that have wind/waterproof front panels but more breathable and articulated rears. Ankle zips make it easier to fit your tights’ cuffs over your overshoes/booties.
Cold Feet Toes?
Choose knee length socks that offer great insulation without excessive bulk, as tight shoes are one of the main causes of cold or numb feet. Dedicated winter booties are great, but ensure you buy a slightly bigger size than your summer shoes, so you can wear warmer socks (only relevant if you wear cycling shoes.
Where are you riding?
Make a continuous effort in planning your route. If you’re not riding with the club, then you might want to make your way on a flatter route in order to make the effort more constant. Riding in this manner will keep you from overheating on the bike, as well as keeping you safe from hazardous road conditions.
Before the ride
Make sure that you’re properly fueled before riding. Once you’ve gotten out and your energy levels drop, you’ll be hard pressed in keeping your speed up to stay warm. Keep your gear nice and warm prior to going out and put it on just before your ride. Don’t overdress or fully dress to early or you will potentially succumb to overheating.
See you at the next Tri-Force Juniors session!