Wind jackets might shield the wind, but they're bad at letting sweat away from the body. Wind jackets provide a false sense of warmth because they trap sweat and heat from the body. But slowly, your clothing will start to soak up water. If you have to stop, go down a descent or take off the jacket because you're overheating, you increase your chances of becoming hypothermic.
The best way to dress for the cold is to ditch the wind jacket and use layers. Layers will help to wick the moisture away from the body while still providing a barrier from the wind.
For the upper body, start with a base layer and wear a short sleeve cycling jersey over it. If it's really cold, add arm warmers and a fleece-lined long sleeve jersey or light jacket as a final layer.
If you're going to wear a jacket, choose one that's designed to be form fitting, which will increase the effectiveness of its moisture-wicking properties.
Fleece tights will help reduce the wind chill below the waist. Some models include extra fabric in the area around the knees for added protection. A set of suspenders will also keep the tights from slipping down (like bib shorts).
Head, Hands and Feet
For the feet, some cyclists prefer wool socks during the winter months. But just like the upper and lower parts of the body, you'll stay warmer by using layers. When it's really cold, put neoprene toe covers or booties over your cycling shoes. If it's still too cold, use another set of neoprene covers over the shoe. Layering with socks will make your feet sweat, and when they become wet, you could be in trouble.
When it comes to the hands, you can either choose full-fingered gloves or mittens. Fingered gloves provide maximum dexterity, which will make shifting easier. Mittens provide more warmth, but can be bulky and make it hard to handle the bike.
Lobster gloves, which are a cross between mittens and fingered gloves, are a good compromise between warmth and dexterity in very cold weather. Another option is to use neoprene gloves similar to those used for diving. They're warm, thin and waterproof. You can use a pair of thin fleece gloves under these for temperatures below freezing.
Keeping the head warm can be tricky. Most cyclists can't fit an insulated cap under their helmet. Yes, there are covers that fit over the helmet, but they don't work all that well. Probably the best solution is to get a second, bigger helmet, which can accommodate a fleece cap. If you're looking for another option, a cycling cap will also trap the heat and keep you warm.
So go out there and embrace the cold. It might not seem like it now, but the warm summer months are just around the corner, and you'll be in better shape if you do a little riding between now and then.Search for a cycling event