Due to the extremity of conditions riding in winter forces you to learn tips and tricks fast. Dressing for winter can be perplexing, that mixture of wet plus cold and the increments within it that can make or break a ride. Here is my tested take after a few years riding in the Pac NW.
Cooler and wet short rides of an hour or less:-
- If it’s constantly raining make sure you have a good rain jacket. Here are three I recommend Showerspass Elite 2.1, Showerspass Torch and Rapha Rain jacket
- Try some neoprene based gloves, most of the large brands make them now Castelli, Rapha These are generally pretty good for an hour or so in the rain. If you are just in for a commute and need a lower cost / high value pair, check these out, or a super rain proof pair these which are also less costly yet perform well.
Colder and or wetter rides of an hour or less:-
- Tape off the ventilation sole holes (if you have them) in your shoes – use duct or electrical tape, this makes a huge difference. Keeps cold air and water out.
- Get a winter specific cap / hat. The basic Rapha winter hat does a great job even in damp conditions.
- Get some top notch shoe covers – For wet I recommend Castelli ones and also the Rapha neoprene ones are great. The Castelli ones tend to breathe a bit more but are less insulated, so for dry cold places there will be better choices.
MID LENGTH RIDES
Cooler and wet rides of up to 2.5hrs:-
- Pack two or more pairs of gloves, a good storage space is in the back of your rain jacket. If you tend to get sweaty pop them in a plastic bag to keep them fresh.
- Purchase a Peets Boot dryer, you will never regret this for Post ride drying, keeps your shoes in great condition and nice and toasty.
- Invest in a specific pair of winter bib shorts that use a thicker sometimes thin fleece backed material, or wear a pair of overtights on top of your summer shorts.
Colder and or wetter rides of up to 2.5hrs:-
- Learn to love and optimize your layers, Use 3 layers. A good wool base layer, a mid warm layer and a top protective layer. For cold rides all your layers should be long sleeve. As temperatures over the season change you can mix up the arrangement between long and short sleeve layers and different weights materials as needed, ie a thick base layer.
- If you are going to ride in winter a lot and despise shoe covers, get a pair of shoes designed for foul weather. Lake make some top notch shoes designed specifically for this, the mx145 so do Shimano MW7‘s. Fair warning, if you are not used to shoes like this they can feel hot in more temperate climates and shoe covers may work better.
LONGER RIDES (3+hr rides)
- Hand warmers, easy – these common disposable ones work great.
PRO TIP – still working but don’t want to waste them? – wrap them air tight in cling wrap, they will cool down and you can re activate them later for your next ride.
- Thigh Warmers – These go under shorts and keep thighs warm.
PRO TIP – Take a pair of old knee warmers or leg warmers and cut the bottoms off.
- Pack a pair of nitrile gloves – these are super small and stowable, a real saver if conditions get really bad, pop them on when things get really wet.
PRO TIP – I play it by ear and before soaked, stretch them over a pair of regular gloves, keeping some insulation.
The worst thing is taking your gloves off for a shot, losing heat and getting all cold hands. Try this little tip for always camera ready.
– before riding, turn password off, open camera app, change the settings to what you like, then immediately use the SIDE button to turn phone off.
When riding you can use your phone, gloves on, hit the home button and the phone auto goes to camera. Use the side / volume buttons to take the picture. Close phone by side button, back in the pocket- ready for next shot.