I sold my trainer on Friday night. I just couldn’t handle that evil machine that threatened to swallow my soul. I rode the next two days – Saturday was 12 degrees, and Sunday was 8. I was plenty toasty warm.
I live on the Front Range in Colorado. If you look at the averages you’ll realize that 45 is the average high for this time of year. That’s pretty reasonable riding temp. Lately it’s been considerably colder, but I still got out for a pleasant ride. A friend asked what I was wearing yesterday so I thought I’d share that here. I’ll provide details about some specific pieces in separate posts, but this will show the complete system. This is what I wore on a 2 hour tempo ride and the temp went from 10-7 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Giro Aeon helmet
- Gore Bike Wear (GBW) Windstopper Soft Shell Helmet Cap
- Ibex Shak Hoody - a 100 weight fleece would work here too the point was to have the extra layer of a hood
- Ibex Zepher Sport – LOVE the midweight wool tops as a baselayer (more on this later)
- GBW Ozon LS WS Jersey – More on this in a separate post, but this is absolutely the most brilliant piece I have. I use it 4-5 days a week in the winter – seriously.
- Face mask – I used two: a GBW WS face mask and a Serius neoprene. (I only used the neoprene for the first 30-40 minutes before it became too much)
- GBW Alp-X Bibs – these are just my preferred normal bib shorts, the kind you would wear in the summer
- Midweight long bottoms – I prefer wool, but synthetic works.
- GBW Alp-X 2.0 Windstopper Soft Shell pants – These are a windstopper softshell pants. They work perfectly and a have a wide temp range. (more in a separate review)
This is where my system failed a bit. It’s the only spot I got at all cold. I used commuter flat pedals and some ice climbing boots. The combo worked ok because it’s what I had, but if I were riding in this weather more often I’d invest in a different system. I’d probably get the 45nrth Wolvehammers. At the least I would get better flat pedals with a big grippy platform and shoes that are a bit more flexible. The ice-climbing boots worked ok but they’re far from the best.
This system worked perfectly for this temperature at this output. If it was colder, or if I was going slower I might wear more. You really do have to play with it a bit and see how your body runs. That was exactly my plan on Saturday during a recovery ride and I learned a lot.
When I rode Saturday I was only doing a 1 hour recovery ride – i.e. slower and generating less heat. I wore a 100 weight fleece onesie instead of the midweight baselayer bottom and Shak up top. I also wore a Montbell Thermawrap UL jacket instead of the Ozon. It was only 12 degrees, but I was too hot. Seriously. I had to slow down my already slow pace to prevent sweating. It’s something you really have to play with. We all have our own individual comfort range and different needs. On that Slow Saturday ride I wore my Pearl Izumi PRO softshell gloves – they were too much inside the Bar Mitts even going slow. Here’s what I looked like then:
Danger, Will Robinson!
If you’re going to be out on a long cold ride there are two danger situations to keep in mind. The two biggest dangers to consider are sweat and an unplanned stop.
If you build up enough heat you’re going to sweat. It’s a normal part of cycling, but when it’s frigid that sweat can be a dangerous thing if you stop. Sweating enough to wet your gloves or shoes can make staying warm a challenge. The water from sweat will get cold fast if you stop. Even if you don’t some of the insulating properties will be lost due to moisture.
Dealing with it – Wear the right layers for the temperature and output. If you’re starting to sweat you have two options – wear less or work less. Either wear fewer layers, open a layer to vent, or slow down and stoke those fires a little less. It’s hard to get it perfect so it’s best to plan ahead. I always bring an extra set of gloves in the cold for this very reason. You can keep the second set inside a jersey or bib so it stays warm.
The unplanned stop
If you get a mechanical and have to stop you’re going to get cold. You’re not moving as fast and generating the heat you were when you’re spinning the cranks. Be ready for this if it happens. The easiest thing to do is bring an extra layer or two. Participants in the Arrowhead 135 have a long list of mandatory equipment they must bring so that they’re prepared to deal with this eventuality. Extra layers can go in a pack or in a large seat or frame bag. If you’re doing a short cold ride in an urban area the danger is less – you can call a cab or a friend (assuming you have a warm phone so the batteries didn’t die, cell reception, and a friend or cabbie nearby).
I don’t always ride in single digits, but when I do I dress warm. Stay toasty my friends. -EE