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Help Needed: Cold-Weather Road Riding Advice?

SallyCat

Moderator
Staff member
#1
Cycling Divas! I recently bought a gravel bike to try to stay fit over the shoulder seasons. I have LOVED riding it this fall; we have endless dirt roads that traverse endless rolling hills, and it's an absolute joy to go for a long ramble on a beautiful day. However, I went out for a ride in the 40-degree drizzle today and realized I have some things to learn about keeping warm and dry.

Particularly tricky was the enormous difference in comfort level between climbing and descending.

I wore two wicking layers and a wind jacket, shoe covers, and (regrettably) fingerless gloves and shorts. I'm accustomed to being active in the winter and was more concerned about overheating than staying warm. Alas, my fingers were screaming in agony on every descent and flat-road section due to the "wind-chill factor", and though my legs felt ok, the skin was mottled and stayed cold long after I'd come inside and had a warm shower.

I have cycling leg-warmers that I should have worn, so that's pretty straightforward I think. My ears, neck, and face were fine today, and I have thin beanies and balaclavas for skiing that will work if I need them. I'm not looking to bike through true winter weather, but I would like to be able to go out on a low-forties sort of day and be comfortable.

I could use some advice on keeping hands warm. Also, should I be looking at a waterproof jacket and if so, how do you manage the balance between dry vs. sweaty?

Thanks!
 

NYSnowflake

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#2
Try doing Zwift indoors when it gets toooo nasty out there!

I think they make winter riding tights that are windproof in the front and breathable in the back. People also use those for cross country skiing. evo.com and other bike shops do have winter riding gloves that are insulated that you will probably want to check out. There was also something called moose mitts could be attached to the handlebars of a mountain bike. I don’t know about a road bike.
 

SallyCat

Moderator
Staff member
#3
I would love a trainer, but probably will just run outside this year if it's super-cold and not a ski day. (The bike itself sort of stretched my budget).

(It's a small bummer that I have free access to a big gym at work with spin bikes, but the place is usually full of mask-less people working out, and the manager doesn't seem to take COVID seriously at all. I'm not sure I would go into a gym under any circumstances these days, but it's definitely odd that a municipal rec center is so blithe about it).
 

NYSnowflake

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#4
@SallyCat - you can get a dumb trainer used for $40-50 bucks and then a wahoo speed sensor for $40 and get started with Zwift really cheap and still have fun! From there whatever upgrades or enhancements you need are optional.

Your gym situation sounds terrible! Where do you live?
 

SallyCat

Moderator
Staff member
#5
@NYSnowflake Thanks for the great idea; I didn't know that was possible!

(I'm in Vermont, of all places! I work for the town, so the community center is in our building. It's open to residents on a membership basis, but Fire/EMT staff get free 24/7 access. Normally it's a great resource, but I won't go anywhere near it now. I'm baffled that anyone would. No idea why it's not managed better.)
 

SarahXC

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#8
Second the windblock front tights, and jacket/jersey in same construction. I also like goretex full finger cycling gloves with light insulation. Goretex uninsulated over mitts are also great but can be hard to find. I usually have a windblock layer and sometimes an insulated layer for descending I will put in my pocket when climbing. Embrocation (like a protective balm usually with various heating type extracts or similar ingredients added) can help on the legs in addition to tights/leg warmers/knee warmers. The school of thought I have always heard was cover the knees whenever it’s below 60 F. Happy riding!
 
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