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How to Stay Warm for Cold Weather Riding

Cycling through winter may seem like a daunting idea. But a lot of cyclists, especially those who are training to race, are still eager to go out on their bikes on a cold winter day. After all, biking through a clear blue sky above your head and cycling through frosty lanes can be fun and exciting.

Just because the temperature has dropped, that doesn’t mean that you should stow away your bike in the garage. You can still ride your bike even in cold weather, provided that you know how to stay warm.

Here are some tips for keeping warm on a winter bike ride.

Bundle up

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Layering is a concept that everyone is familiar with. During the winter, some people are tempted to put on thick fleeces or jackets to stave off the cold. But if you wear thick, bulky layers, then you’ll be sweating during the first few minutes of biking. Midway through your journey, you’ll feel sweaty and uncomfortable. it is best to wear thinner layers of fabrics. Why? It’s because you’ll feel warmer within a few minutes of pedalling.

While cycling gears can be expensive, we highly recommend that you invest in a good base layer. Since biking is a high intensity activity, you are likely to end up sweating no matter how cold it is.  Look for a winter base layer that has moisture wicking properties, fits well, and has a high collar. This will keep you dry as you sweat and warm even on the coldest days of the year.

Look after your extremities

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During the ride, your hands will always be in the wind. It is always the first thing to get cold. As such, you need to make sure that your hands stay warm throughout the ride. The cold weather can take away your control and dexterity. If they’re cold and numb, you may have trouble maneuvering and braking.

The last thing you want is for your hands to freeze only 20 minutes into the ride. Some of you might be tempted to wear big, fat ski gloves, but please resist the urge to do so. Sure, they may be able to keep your hands warm. But once your hands start to sweat, all the insulation in those gloves will get wet; thus, leading to cold hands. Choosing the right pair of gloves is essential for your riding enjoyment.

Layering is the key to keeping your hands warm on super cold rides. It is recommended to wear 3 pairs of gloves. This will keep your digits toasty even when the temperatures are bitter cold.

Synthetic or wool gloves will do well as a base layer. They can keep your hands toasty in the cold weather while still allowing them to breathe so you don’t overheat. Then, wear insulated, medium-thickness gloves as a second layer. Finally, wear a pair of oversized gloves. Choose one that is bigger than what you normally wear. The outer layer will help keep the chill off of your hands. You may also wear arm and leg warmers for added layer of warmth and protection.

Keep your feet warm

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Cold feet is one of the biggest things that can kill your buzz in cold weather riding. It can be difficult to warm your feet once it gets cold on a ride. Don’t let cold feet stop you from riding your bike this winter.

Everyone has different levels of tolerance when it comes to cold feet. Winter-specific cycling shoes will help keep your feet warm, even below freezing, so you can pedal all day long. If winter boots are too cumbersome for you, we highly recommend that you wear shoe covers over your cycling shoes. Most cycling shoes are designed with mesh vents to keep your feet cool in summer. Wearing shoe covers over them will help at cutting down on the wind blowing into vented shoes.

Wool and synthetic socks are ideal for cold weather riding since they are capable of keeping your feet warm and dry. Avoid cotton socks as they are likely to lose their insulating properties once they become damp from sweat. You may wear an extra pair of socks on top of wool or synthetic socks if there is room in your cycling shoes.

Don’t forget your head

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Our head and face are more sensitive to changes in temperature than the rest of our body. As the temps begin to descend, the more layers you’ll need to keep your head, face, and ears protected from the cold. As such, you want to make sure that you have warm, comfortable clothing system for your head.

A thin, close-fitting beanie that is made of synthetic fabric will help keep your head and ears warm. Wearing a headband is also a good idea as it will keep your ears warm. In extreme weather conditions, we recommend adding face protection to the clothing list. Wear a balaclava to keep your face and neck warm.

The cold air makes our eyes stream really quickly. Make sure that you have some decent glasses to keep the skin around your eyes from becoming uncomfortably chilled. It will also block the wind; thus, protecting your eyes and vision.

Up the intensity

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Most people enjoy long bike rides in the spring and summer. The weather is great and riding a bike provides an excellent opportunity to explore areas you haven’t been to while shedding some pounds. But given the chilly winds and freezing temperatures in winter, cyclists can’t afford to go on long bike rides.

Increase your effort until you hit a point where you’re above your comfort zone. Hold that intensity for three minutes. Recover for three minutes and bring yourself to a high intensity once again and then cool down. This exercise will not only make you faster and stronger, it also increases your core temperature. Plus, it will shorten the amount of time you need to spend outdoors. It will help you maximize your stints in the saddle.

Take some warm beverage with you

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Most bikers would bring a bottle of cold, icy water during their rides. Not only does it help keep them hydrated, it also helps cool them off. But the winter isn’t a good time for cold water. Instead, fill your tumbler with warm water or tea. Take a few sips from time to time. Also, plan to take a break mid-ride, especially if you’re heading out for a 2 to 3 hour ride. Drink up and refill your water bottle with warm water.

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