Cold Weather Riding, Revisited.

Riding in Illinois means you either have a short riding season, or you adapt to riding in crappy weather.  And as I’ve just been reminded by Brendan Collier, we don’t have mountains, either.  Yes, Illinois kinda sucks.

Actually, with the constant headwinds, I guess you’d say it blows.  But that’s not what today’s post is about.

Last year, I was dressing for winter biking how I’d dress for all winter activities.  That is to say, I was dressing warmly enough to be able to be outside in the cold.  That’s a mistake.

I’ve been told that for winter biking, you should be cold when you start riding.  That is absolutely correct.  I now dress for moving, and accept that I’ll be cold at the start of the ride.  It’s a far superior modus operandi.

For example, last year on a fatbike snow ride, temps were about 30 degrees, it was snowing, and I went out to do a low speed snow romp with friends.  I was wearing bib shorts under tights under Gore Fusion GT AS pants, on the bottom half.  Up top, I was wearing a tight tech-fabric long-sleeved baselayer, a long-sleeved jersey, a vest, my Gore Phantom windstopper jacket, and my Fusion GT AS jacket over that.

A low speed snow romp on the fatbike generates more body-warmth and less windchill than a comparatively high speed road ride.  And yet when I went out for a ride on Saturday, temps were around 25, mild wind, and we were riding at road speeds…but I had on far less clothing.  Just bib shorts, a pair of Gore windstopper tights, a Gore singlet, long-sleeve jersey and the Phantom jacket.

Note in the picture above, that the jackets are unzipped.  On that ride, I started off warm, got hot, got sweaty, unzipped, and ended up damp.

On the Saturday ride, I started cold, warmed up, rode in perfect comfort, and ended dry and comfortable.

As good as Gore products are, when you overdress with multiple layers, even they cannot get rid of all of the sweat you generate.  The moral of the story?  Listen to the guys who say you should start cold.  Resist the temptation to add more layers.  I’m revising my temperature ratings for just about all of my gear.  If it’s an actual ‘go out and ride’ bike event, I’m wearing a lot less clothing, in comparatively colder weather.  If nothing else, it keeps you motivated to keep moving…

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2 thoughts on “Cold Weather Riding, Revisited.

  1. Where at in Illinois are you riding? I’m from the Quad Cities. We have pretty decent terrain here in the river valley, decent hills and great mud!

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