Let's face it: It's winter, it's cold and it's not the ideal season for cycling. But, that doesn't mean you have to hang up your wheels and head indoors to a spin class. A few simple tips exist that'll keep you more comfortable in colder temperatures and make your cycling more pleasurable.
While you still shouldn't head out into a raging blizzard, you can ride when it's dry if you have the right clothes. From head to toe, use these clothing tips to stay warm on the bike this winter.
Stay Dry to Stay Warm
Your primary concern during the winter is staying dry. Water conducts heat away from the body much faster than when you're dry. Before moisture-wicking fabrics were developed, European riders used to stuff newspaper into the front of their jerseys.
This technique had two benefits. First, the paper absorbed the sweat, which removes moisture from the skin. Secondly, it provides an efficient windbreaker. Moving air removes heat from the body quicker than stationary air, which is exactly what happens when your cycling.
If you're on the bike and going faster than walking pace, you're going to sweat. Some people sweat more than others, but everyone perspires when they ride. How you deal with the sweat is critical to staying warm during the winter.
So, like the Europeans found with their newspaper trick, the key is to get water (or sweat) away from your skin. Luckily, this isn't just a problem for cyclists, as there are a number of moisture-wicking fabrics available. These fabrics provide a base layer to be worn next to the skin that absorbs moisture. Because the idea is to remove as much water as possible, the base layer should fit tight.
Leave the Wind Jacket at Home
The newspaper trick reveals the second most important factor in keeping warm during the winter: Reducing direct contact with flowing air. Just like driving in your car, if you're insulated from the affects of moving air, then the problem is solved.
Unfortunately many cyclists think the solution to insulation from moving air is to wear a wind jacket. Wind jackets have their place in cycling, but not during winter riding.