The free feeling that comes from speeding along on a bike with the wind blowing on your face becomes far less comfortable as the temperatures outside plummet. Whether you cycle for exercise or as a way to get from point a to point b, these tips will help you stay warm when pedaling in the winter.
Layering your clothing before hopping on your bike is one of the most important steps you can take to keep the chill at bay in cold weather. Thin layers on top of each other will trap pockets of warm air between the fabric. It also allows you to remove layers if you enter a heated building.
A Good Base Layer
In the winter, your base layer is extremely important. Once you start cycling, your body seeks to regulate your temperature by sweating. If you don’t have a base layer that quickly wicks away moisture, your sweat will decrease your body temperature, leaving you damp and freezing.
Insulate Your Head
Even though you are wearing a helmet, the materials are not enough protection against the cold. Much of your body heat escapes from your head, so you will need a warm layer under your helmet to keep it in. A wool beanie is generally enough insulation to keep your head from leaching away your precious body heat.
You need the feeling in your hands to accurately steer your bike. It’s important to have a good pair of gloves that stay dry and keep your hands toasty. Opt for a material that is waterproof as well as insulating.
If you are the kind of person who always has cold hands and feet, consider carrying air activated hand warmers. As soon as you remove them from their packaging, the air causes a chemical reaction that heats them up. Browsing the internet will pull up a variety of brands that provide extra warmth for up to eight hours.
A Warm Beverage
It’s important to stay hydrated on your winter bike ride, but skip the bottles of cold water. Opt instead for a thermos of hot water or herbal tea. Your hydration breaks will give you a chance to warm up from the inside out.
Before you set foot into the frigid outdoors to climb on your bike, fuel your body up with a hearty meal. If you set out on an empty stomach your body will quickly become exhausted, particularly with the extra energy you are expending keeping your body warm. Have a meal consisting of a good mix of protein and carbohydrates about an hour before your ride.
Service Your Bike
The last thing you want is to find yourself stranded with a broken bicycle in freezing weather. Before the cold weather really ramps up, take your bike into the shop for a general tune up. Before each ride, do a check on your bike to make sure it’s properly oiled and the gears and chains won’t quit on you halfway through your ride.
You don’t want to jump on your bike in cold weather without first limbering up. Do five to ten minutes of warm up stretches that mainly focus on your leg and core muscles. This will make your entire ride easier and prevent injury from exercising with cold muscles.
No matter how many layers you pile on, there will still be portions of your skin that are exposed to the elements. You can help keep these parts warm and prevent chapping at the same time by slathering on lotion before you hit the road. A good lotion with sunscreen will shield your skin from harmful UV rays and provide a protective layer from the wind that makes your skin feel a lot less cold.
When considering what to wear on your bike ride, it is important to pay attention to the fabric content. Fabrics like cotton, rayon and silk hold moisture and prevent the evaporation of sweat. Choose synthetic fabrics specifically manufactured for outdoor performance to stay comfortable for the duration of your ride.