Rugged Individualist. Certified USA Triathlon Coach & NASM Personal Trainer, Men's Self Improvement Coach. President of Go Farther Sports. National Ranked Triathlete & 100 Mile Grand Slam Ultrarunner, only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

YES, you CAN bike outside in the winter. It's all in the clothes (Part 1).

Yes, you can ride outside. There isn't such thing as "too cold". But there is such things as wearing the wrong clothes!

I'll touch up on the jackets and the pants first, and then focus on the extremities tomorrow.

Jackets and Base Layers

So, let's start with the most complicated part of the winter cycling wardrobe, the top. Cycling jackets come in all shapes and sizes; the best jackets are the ones that keep the cold and the wind out, since cold and wind are really givens while cycling (you're actually creating a wind chill when riding 15-20MPH or more in the cold!).

Cycling jackets are different than running jackets in that they will make a seal around your neck to keep the wind from coming in. So if you think you can use your running jacket to ride, you're definitely wrong! So make sure you get one that provides a nice seal around the neck. A lot of them have velcro tabs that will easily help with that seal.

There are two main types of jackets, the "hard shell" and the "soft shell" jackets. The big difference between the two is that the hard shell jackets are waterproof, which is nice if there is rain or snow involved. The problem with waterproof is that there is no way for the sweat generated to leave. Waterproof jackets completely keep the weather out, but it might make you feel a bit swampy inside.
Soft shells are a bit more breathable. They might not completely prevent rain and weather from staying out, but you'll definitely stay dry inside while keeping the heat in.

It's all a matter of preference. My preference is that I go with the soft shell jackets on dry days between 40-60 degrees. I use the hard shell jackets on colder days or if there is rain at temperatures between 40-60 degrees.
You'll need to wear the jackets with a base layer for it to completely work. The base layer is basically the same with both hard and soft shells and should have the ability of wicking away sweat from the skin surface. I use the thinner base layers for days between 40-60 degrees and a thicker one for colder days.

Again this has to do with temperatures. There are thermal shorts for those 40-50 degree days. These are good because they do have the chamois for much needed padding. Below that, you might want to invest in cycling trousers that can go over the cycling shorts. Be careful with the trousers though; you will want to have trousers that hug the lower leg. If you get the baggy trousers, the loose bottoms can snag in with the chain, which is a no-no. If it really gets cold (20 degrees or colder, you can also wear a thinner pair of tights under the thicker one for effective layering. I do have running tights with me so I actually use them under the cycling trousers on those frigid days to keep the bottom warm.

Tomorrow, I'll focus on the hat, mask, gloves, and socks and booties for the feet.

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