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How to dress for cycling in autumn and then in winter? We are near the summer of San Martino but give time to time: daylight saving time has just ended and we can say we are in the middle of autumn with temperatures decreasing especially in the early morning and late afternoon. This means that our uniforms from bikes still made of "leggings" and "sleeves" with at most one sleeveless will soon give way to winter cycling clothing far more appropriate.
In this post I want and hope to give you some advice that comes from personal experiences (even not pleasant ones) to allow you to ride even in winter and at different temperatures than usual, also trying to dispel some myths.
Clothing for cyclists: before dressing, think about winter temperatures
How to dress on a bike with 10 degrees? and with 12? What is the ideal temperature for cycling? Here are some typical questions: obviously none of us is a pedal professional but you can always learn from them: those who run at a competitive level know that under certain temperatures, roughly around 5 degrees, a bike ride becomes less training. This is because hypothermia, even if slight, slows down the efficiency of our body which is therefore more careful to preserve body temperature.
The same “pros” if they have to deal with such temperatures prefer to vary their training by alternating other sports (running) or related specialties (such as cyclocross). So the first piece of advice is: if it's too cold I don't say forget it but know that perhaps the experience doesn't pay off in terms of performance.
What is the main aspect to take into consideration
Certainly good planning: how long will your outings be? Over 2 and a half hours going out of winter without the right quality clothing will make you suffer be during the exit (or you will never get hot or likewise you could do like fireplaces that smoke continuously) both after training with possible ailments that can come against you both at the muscular and respiratory level, up to the most classic cold head migraine.
A lower risk that should not be underestimated is that the poor fit and quality will certainly make you move and train badly.
What are the most underestimated garments during winter bike rides
- My personal and observer experience leads me to say in the first place the "cap / cap". Yes, because the winter hat must be worn even if under the helmet; in periods of acceptable temperatures a sweat bandana will have the same effect.
Don't think that a good helmet is enough, especially if you have little mother nature hair. Downhill earlobes or just due to the effect of the wind caused by your gait tend to cool as well as the tip of the nose or forehead. And if you are strongly balding like myself, the keeping your head warm will be indispensable. A cold head is a badly functioning head and the balance and reflexes all start from there. Good clothing that is light but does not impede lateral peripheral vision will help you make the right decisions at the right time.
- In second place the winter underwear shirt: now they are calibrated for intensity of cold. What is their best quality? Soon he said: you sweat even in winter, but if a shirt does not retain the sweat, your body will; the problem is that a wet body in winter tends to cool down and the water to change state freezing. There is a need to let the body breathe but keeping the temperature.
The most classic mistake that is done in these cases is the classic extreme option: on the one hand those who are light and despite the thermal jacket will never stay at the right temperature, on the other hand those who use the "mountaineer" shirts that will make you evaporate in a short time or at the first stop "traffic light" or "bar".
- Not for everyone but for me in third place the glasses: for me who has an easy tear, in winter without glasses I risk perennial stalactites on my face with serious visibility problems with which I should not joke. A nice pair of glasses that tend to have an anti-fog lens (another risk) will make you see the road and the other occupants of the carriageways well.
- It is not a garment but one of the biggest mistakes you make when you go out in winter is not to think about the safety resulting from poor lighting, so as I recommend in this post, always havelights, LEDs or headlights and both front and rear
What is the surprise garment that can save you?
Recently in a magazine I discovered something that I involuntarily do too, even if not in the middle of winter. When it starts to get cold but not so invasive I wear two summer uniforms on the bust to which I add some sleeves. One thing I prefer to the classic sleeveless because I find it more opaque.
In the specific case it was suggested to use the sleeves over the long undershirt but under the uniform. In my opinion I find it excessive but if it is cold it has its functionality as the arms suffer a lot and move little; this will keep you warm the tendons and muscles that impact on the hands and fingers with which you brake. When you brake in the winter with cold arms it burns everything and it seems to have stopped circulation.
These garments are joined by the classic must-haves winter that every cyclist with a good frequency of outings even in winter cannot fail to have, namely:
- Winter gloves - for which, however, it is necessary to avoid making classic mistakes; such as taking them "right" because they will prevent you from moving and with internal sweating they will stick to you more than a tattoo. You have to stay on a comfortable fit and possibly with a grip on the hands. The same goes for shoes, socks and shoe covers. I bought some models myself that didn't give me leeway for movement. It would have been great if I had been a motionless mannequin but the bike is "continuous movement" so if you don't want to feel cramped in your shoes, try to understand that the size is flexible in relation to "the function of use". Remember, and anyone who also rides a motorcycle knows, I am the extremities those that suffer the most and this because circulation in a very banal way makes the blood flow where it is most needed, or on the muscle group you are using and especially also on the trunk where the vital organs are and the heart resides. I recently went out very early in the morning with temperatures around 2 degrees: the problem is not so much in the cold in particular but also in the type of training you want to do; as the day progresses, the temperature rises and often all amateurs make small climbs of 3 km exposed to the sun. In this case, the glove is very useful during the descent: if it's cold and the inside is wet it's a pain that I won't tell you. A companion of mine who is also a biker uses the cycling gloves which can be activated at any time by means of a small battery; certainly they are thicker than usual but for a training session they are excellent and it will be my next purchase.
- The shoe covers - Between the extremities of the body that suffer the most there are also the feet especially because they are very in contact with the ground or the road (also in summer they are one of the parts that tend more or boil on the scorching asphalt) for which is therefore necessary to have good shoe covers and socks that prevent exposure of the air to the toes and soles of the feet which are very sensitive and if they freeze they are a great annoyance during the effort.
- The dungarees - I leave the winter “dungarees” for last as well as any "wind stopper" or thermal jacket not because they are unimportant but to the exact opposite: being indispensable, there is a lot of attention in the search for fit solutions tailored to the needs of each type of cyclist. In my opinion for those who suffer a lot on the lower limbs it is good to take a very opaque model on the front (on the quadriceps in the pedaling direction) and with cquality hinge that they close as best they can; are details but those who go often know what a zip that does not close means that lets the classic draft of Arctic "bora" pass. The price difference between good quality and inferior models often lies in the seams and ends with the use of hinges that do not always fit together and guarantee an excellent fit without breaks or imperfections.
The best models are also in water repellent material (see Gore - Tex) therefore they guarantee both an adequate temperature combined with the fact that they do not get damp in almost any condition, which is important both in terms of health but also in terms of performance since wet clothing "weighs" much more; and I assure you that when you have to travel 30/40 km under water to go home, you will appreciate this feeling of lightness and dryness despite the very bad weather.
Then there are the latest generation technical clothing / accessories expressly designed for those who suffer a lot from the cold or for those who train or stay out in the open air for many hours throughout the day. Let's see some examples, from cushions to thermal insoles for each temperature:
- Heated socks : ideal for those who do long rides. They are powered by batteries located in the upper part
- Thermal insoles : ideal not only for cycling and adjustable via a small remote control. Ideal as we said before not only for cycling but also for hikers and skiers. They can be an excellent product for those who travel by bike, let's say not exactly in the hottest seasons of the year, even if given the weight and frugal use, even the excellent thermal adhesive foot warmers can be easily transported and used at the right time.
- Adhesive heated towel rail: Great disposable choice for cyclists. They should be used under the sole of the foot but many make an alternative use on the neck and top of the foot. They are excellent products but we must not fall into the opposite error. Let's remember that when you play sports you sweat and then there is always the sun (and we stop at the bar) to keep us company. The heat is fine but we don't necessarily have to cook our ends, otherwise we would be sporty.
Winter cycling clothing: purchases and materials on the market
Alberto Contador - Jupan Cup 2017 Pinterest
On the net it is now possible to get information and buy all the necessary set to be able to ride even in the coldest months; for example on Amazon, by doing targeted searches (the categorization is in fact not perfect) you can extract a list of products listed by relevance and compare the opinions of those who bought that item before you.
Let's now highlight how to best carry out a targeted search on this specific e-commerce; I have extracted for you an abundant dozen categories where it will be easier for you to evaluate the necessary and the different price proposals, brands and models:
- Winter Cycling Clothing
- Winter cycling jersey
- Thermal shirt
- Cycling Jackets
- Winter Cycling Cap
- Winter Cycling Gloves
- Heating gloves from cislismo
- Winter Cycling Shoe Cover
- Thermal cycling socks
- Cycling arm warmers
- Cycling leggings
- Adhesive heated towel rail
- Windproof cycling vest
Other related articles I wrote on IdeeGreen that might interest you are:
- Bike and cycling lights: LEDs, headlights and lighting tips
- Cycling shoes for racing or mtb bikes: how to choose them
- How to clean and lubricate the bike and chain
- E-Bike, which electric bike to choose: E-Mtb, City E-bike or Corsa
- Tires, tubeless and tubular: guide and bike tire sizes
- Bike and Cycling Glasses: guide and models
- Bike and Cycling Helmet: guide and models
- How to clean and lubricate the bike and chain
- Bicycle touring, equipment to bring on a bike trip
Curated by Tullio Grilli