Here are four tips to help you survive a winter of riding:
1. Manage your layers. When approaching a hill, prepare by opening the zipper on your outer layer and/or on your underarms. If you have a balaclava on, pull it down under your chin. If you are wearing arm warmers, roll them down a bit. All of this will let out some excess heat and prevent moisture buildup inside your gear. Once you hit the top, zip up, roll up, pull up and drop like a stone!
2. Use those old hiking socks. When you don't have the option of putting extra socks inside your bike shoes (talk about discomfort!), put those socks that Aunt Edna made for you to good use. Cut a hole in the mid-foot (on the bottom) for your cleat to fit through. Make sure its big enough so that it won't get caught in the pedal (best way is to put it over your bike shoe and cut it off around the cleat).
3. No ice please. Keep your water bottle in the back of your jersey, under your outer layer, instead of on your down/seat tubes. The warmth you give off as you ride will keep the fluid from freezing.
4. Stay hydrated. It's easy not to drink when it's cold outside. You still need to keep getting those fluids in, especially if you like to drink coffee or hot cocoa in the wintertime (both will dehydrate you). The good news is that you won't be riding long enough to need too much water (and if you are, make it two loops from home to get a new base layer on and fill up).