Spin Doctor Tech Tip – The Cold, Hard Truth About the Cold

Face it. Summer is gone. The colder temperatures of fall are moving in, daylight savings is lurking just around the corner, and, if you’re like me, stepping out of a warm bed and into the cold morning is not the ideal way to wake up. All drama aside, riding my bike is simply too much fun to have to give it up for months at a time. So, what’s the best way to keep riding? Personally, it comes down to simply making the time to get on the bike, even if it’s only for a quick 45 minutes on the trail. Sure, I’d love to spend 2-3 hours out there, but I find that a little time on the bike beats no time on the bike, hands down.

Here at the Performance Bike office, we have an ideal situation for cyclists where riding during the lunch hour is encouraged and supported. We’ve got lockers, showers, tools, and even bike stands in the office.  It’s a great culture, but, sadly, one that does not really exist outside of the bike industry. Finding the time to ride is half the battle, and that’s ultimately going to depend on your schedule.

So, if you can find your riding windows, how do you ease into the cold and keep at it until the Spring blooms appear? Riding in the cold requires a bit of extra effort–you’ve got to pack more clothes in your gear bag and consider layering so that you can keep comfortable. Plus, you have to be extra aware of the amount of daylight left in the day so that you don’t get stranded. Of course, a little technology doesn’t hurt. Wind and water resistant tights, jerseys and jackets, toe covers, and skull caps are crucial if you want to stay comfortable on your rides. We just published a web article, Dressing for the Cold, that suggests what to wear at different temperature ranges.

In the next few months, don’t give up. Suit up, make the time, and keep riding. Sooner or later, it’s going to have to warm up. Plus, the more you ride in cooler weather, the easier it gets.

I’m curious as to how other riders approach the cold weather season. Please feel free to leave your tips and tricks as a comment below.

38 Responses to Spin Doctor Tech Tip – The Cold, Hard Truth About the Cold

  1. Dan Froelich says:

    Wear a java filled vest using Camelbak technology. :-)

  2. Tim Rourke says:

    If it’s not icy, I’m riding. Three layers- windbreaker on top of fleece vest on top of polypro, opening zippers as needed for ventilation. Also a headband, lined gloves and a helmet cover if it’s really nasty. I’m more comfortable than on a hot summer day; you can insulate against the cold but you can’t control the heat.

  3. Christopher says:

    Truly, it doesn’t get that cold here in NC.

    A tip from when I used to live in PA: Polar insulated bottles don’t freeze like regular bottles do.

    Trainers are boring, buy some tights and keep riding!

  4. Kate says:

    Agreed. It doesn’t get cold in NC…Winter is the perfect time to MTB, especially at night. Once you start moving you actually remove some layers. The air is crisp in the fall/winter but the sooner you get out there, the sooner your body will get acclimated to the “cold.”

  5. mongchacha says:

    my winter coat grows out when it gets cold. i love winter riding!

  6. Jeff Small says:

    Rollers, rollers, rollers.

  7. Dwayne says:

    Well, in NE OH, if we have a ‘normal’ fall, it gradually gets colder and you gradullay get used to it. There’s a period of time where the MTB trails get sketchy with the leaves, if it doesn’t snow, the leaves eventually get blown and you can ride again! I typically ride (commute) until it gets below 20 degress and/or snows…then…I move my riding to Ray’s Indoor MTB Park!! Get my ride on there, INSIDE! No rollers, on trainer for me…

  8. Chris London says:

    Moving from San Diego to Seattle this year we will test my wet weather riding abilty. There is no such thing as poor weather, only poor gear!

  9. steve jones says:

    I will ride all winter here along the front range of Colorado.I have a combo of cycling gear along with ski gear gets me by quite nicely. Liners for ski gloves work well under my shorty gloves down to 45 degrees. As it gets colder I have a variety of gloves to choose from until I am wearing heavy ski gloves with the afore mentioned liners in them. Keeping the from getting to my skin is the numero uno priority along with keeping my feet warm. Wool socks with booties and feet or hand warmers between the booties and the shoes do the trick nicely when it gets below 28 degrees. haven’t spent more than 2 hours out at that temp. Also the balaclava sometimes with a beanie is needed. Having beanies of various weights comes in handy Wool base layer is a must along with options for the thickness of the next two layers. Tights under a thin wind pant has worked well down to 18 degrees the coldest I have attempted. Hope to try going down to 10 degrees this winter

  10. A base, jersey and shell are enough to keep you warm on most mornings. Spend a little money on good gloves and booties and you will be much more comfortable.

  11. Gabe U says:

    One thing I didn’t read is that you should always dress according to the ride you are going to do. For example, if you are doing a fast road ride with a group you may want to dress down a bit because you will probably be working hard. Then again you may be out for an easy mountain ride and you might want to bulk up a bit. It’s SITUATIONAL!!!! As with most everything in cycling…no standards but I do like the guidelines.

  12. tyler s says:

    stay optimally hydrated on those cold rides with nuun tablets in your water bottles (or camelbak) and the nuun won’t freeze as fast as water. with all of those extra layers on, you’ll be sweating plenty, and hydration is still important. apart from that, seattle weather promotes a good shell, serious fenders, and my favorite: fully waterproof messenger backpack (by ortlieb) to keep the goods dry.

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