Bicycling is perceived by many as a warm weather pursuit – a pursuit whose participation drops in relation to the temperature. I myself used to let my bicycle collect dust during the fall and winter months because riding was something I associated with summer and shorts. Not anymore.
In those olden days, I used to have a temperature tolerance basement of about 60º F for riding a bike. Maybe high 50s. But since I let go of racing’s influence on my bicycling and realized it was something I could casually do in all seasons while maintaining a little style, that basement has dropped to about 35º F, give or take a few.
As the weather cools (mid-40s to mid-50s), I start breaking out the wools: sweaters, turtlenecks, scarves, jackets and coats. I have a great pair of inexpensive fingerless wool gloves that not only keep my feelers warm, but enable me to pull out my iPhone without too much fuss. Another favorite: tweed.
Below the waist, it’s chinos, wool trousers or jeans with medium-weight socks. But when the temperature starts to dip into this area, I have to start paying attention to wind chill, since I’ll be pedaling through cold air and even colder breeze.
As it gets colder, I bust out the leather gloves, the heavier scarves, hats and socks. This is actually where my clothing for cold weather bicycling might slightly deviate from what I wear just walking around in the cold. For cycling, I might ramp it up with an extra layer on top, like a long-sleeve thermal undershirt or some such. Basically, I wear the same thing I wear riding a bike as I do walking the street, adding an extra under layer when cycling in the cold. The idea is to just prevent as much as possible any cold air from blowing directly onto bare skin, like from the neck, the waist, the wrists or the ankles.
Another important thing to remember when bicycling in the cold is skin protection and moisture. Two things: face cream and lip balm. Cold wind in your face can be harsh on your skin. A rich face cream is the ticket there. And use a good lip balm, especially if there’s a kiss waiting for you at the end of the ride…