Cold Weather Riding Tips
Although technically it has been winter for two weeks the outside temperature finally reflects the current season.
Just because the temperature is dropping doesn't mean you need to hang up the helmet for the season. Whether you commute by bike or just like to ride on the weekends, a little planning can keep you in the saddle no matter the weather.
Cover your butt...
and hands and face and everything else. One of the most important things to remember with cold weather riding is to minimize the amount of exposed skin. Once you reach higher speeds the windchill will make 35° feel more like 15° and you will quickly realize the gaps in coverage around places like your wrists and eyes.
Pickup a pair of breathable gloves - your favorite knit mittens will not be ideal because as your body heats up your hands will start to sweat and then once you stop you will be colder than before. You can also pair your gloves with the "lobster claw" style cover to give the benefits of mittens with the flexibility of gloves letting you keep two fingers on the brake and two on the handlebars.
Check and see if your helmet manufacturer offers winter liners that will help keep heat from escaping and covers your ears.
If your favorite helmet doesn't offer this a balaclava is a versatile garment that can be worn to cover everything but your eyes or pushed down and worn over just your mouth and neck to keep the cold air from directly entering your lungs.
Other gear to consider are a pair of merino wool socks that will keep your feet warm even if they start to sweat and winter goggles that will help keep the part of your face left exposed by the balaclava covered.
Layer instead of relying on one heavy item
Those of us that live in cold weather climates have that go-to heavy winter jacket which helps us get from Point A to Point B as comfortable as possible. Although that jacket might be great most of the time it is terrible for cold weather riding. You might feel warm and toasty as you start but as your body heat starts to build there is no where for it to escape and boom - rolling sauna.
The name of the game is layering. Pair a sweatshirt with a vest on top and some long underwear or leggings under your normal biking pants on the bottom. You should feel a little cold leaving the house before you start your ride.
Above all only ride if you feel comfortable handing the road or trail conditions. You can always buy an indoor trainer to stay active throughout these cold months.