Coming in from a ride this morning I felt the cold. I left my Madison Ave apartment at about 6:45am. By the time I had finished my 6 mile journey my hands were totally immobile. Frozen. Once inside, I held them under running cool water to warm them up. Then it happened. They started to ache, it was terribly painful. Like the bones were rotting. Luckily it was just my hands that were cold. I had made the correct moves to keep the rest of my body warm with layers.
Take this knowledge about layers and stay warm this winter while riding.
Core – Base Layer or Wicking Layer
This goes back to fibers that can wick or that are hydrophilic. Get a base layer that is skin tight (looks good too!) and is made of a material that will wick water off your skin. You want the article to wick so the sweat will be pulled off your body and skin tight to cover as much surface as possible. The oxford dictionary says that fibers will, “[have] a tendency to mix with, dissolve in , or be wetted by water.” Anything with wool will wick.
Core – Mid Layer or Insulation Layer
You can spend lots of money on expensive garments, but a wool sweater is a great insulator. Yesterday I biked about five miles to Crossgates Mall. To keep me warm I had a t-shirt, wool sweater, and a relatively thin jacket on. It was about nine AM and cold. By the time I got to the mall I felt like I had just finished a 26 mile marathon through the Congan jungle. I was so hot and sweating all over. People were looking at me cross eyed. I felt happy to be warm. So try it out. Wear a wool mid layer.
Core – Outer Layer or Elemental Shell
Every survivalist needs a shell. Whales have their fat and elephants have thick skin. If you’re going to take on the winter you need a shell. You need something that is water proof. This will also break the wind. Windchill can make it feel much colder than it really is. On a bicycle, winds are inevitable. While riding in twenty degree still air, a ride at 15 mph can drop from twenty to six degrees according to the National Weather Service. Now factor in headwinds and frostbite is more serious.
Final Notes – Layer Smart
Use a wicking layer as a base layer.
Have a thick insulation layer as your mid layer.
An Elemental Shell is your outside layer.
Keep your hands warm with solid pair of gloves. Think the same with your feet.
Your face needs to stay warm too – look to ski wear. They have dealt with many of these problems since day one.
Here are some useful links to quickly pick up some winter cycling gear.
Aero Tech Design – good list of quality products
Primaloft’s products, as I have had very good experiences with their products in harsh conditions. Their different fibers are warm, breathable, mange water well, and some materials are even recycled materials.