I hope you enjoyed part I of this article. For part II I’ll be writing about clothing, studded tires, and companions.
Clothing, the fine art of layering
I have been wearing roughly the same outfit while winter cycling for about 4 years. Seriously, check the pictures. Why? Two reasons, because it works and because it lasts. Since winter cycling gear spends ¾ of the year in the closet it will last significantly longer. This makes it well worth the investment to have what you need to be comfortable.
Here’s what I wear from toe to head: thick wool socks, 45NRTH cycling boots, thermal bib tights w/ chamois, Pearl Izumi Amfib Tights, 1 or 2 long-sleeve base layers, long-sleeve thermal cycling jersey, cycling shell, lobster mittens, neck buff, wool cycling cap. There are many good products to fill most of these slots. However, when it comes to the tights the Pearl Izumi’s AmFibs are THE product. They are super warm, breathable but highly water resistant, and have survived plenty of falls.
For me that setup is the secret formula to staying warm but not sweating much. Remember, it is ok to be a little cold at the beginning of the ride. Your body will warm up. If you do not like starting cold a frame bag is a really good investment. It gives you a place to carry removed layers and extra goodies to make your ride more enjoyable. An important note about my setup is that it requires me to keep moving. If I anticipate riding slowly or stopping regularly I carry a winter jacket in my frame bag.
Studs are better than thuds
Remember back in part one when I shared about riding the ice bridge? Back then studded fat-bike tires were an idea, a fantasy product. Reality was the Surly Larry and Endomorph and a lot of bruises. Now there are tons of fat tire options and several studded ones.
Last winter I got my first pair of studded fat-bike tires and it opened the door of possibilities even wider. Lakes and streams became frozen highways and icy trails could be ridden at speed. Even if you would rather stay on land, studs can give you more confidence. You can hit corners faster without worrying about catching a slick spot. Getting around town, where icy spots are common and falls are hard, becomes much less risky. Studded tires can be a significant investment but they should last several winters and will be cheaper than an injury.
Riding buddies count double
There is something special about getting together with a bunch of similarly crazy friends, to ride comical looking bikes, in conditions that make walking from your house to the car a pain. In the cold weather it can be harder than ever to motivate yourself for a ride. We run regular group fat bike rides throughout the winter, come join us! Sign up for the email notifications.
Planning to ride with others will not only help get you off the couch, it is also safer. In the winter, a crash or a mechanical issue can become a dangerous situation more quickly than in the summer. Having others with you greatly reduces those risks.
After you and your frozen friends finish riding, the best way to recover is with some food and refreshments. Be sure to change into dry clothes to help your body warm back up. Then go have a good time laughing at how many “snow angels” you made while riding.
I hope you enjoyed this article. Please comment below with questions and your own winter tips!