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9.11 Nancy's Cold/Wet Cycling Tips


This article is from the Bicycles FAQ, by Mike Iglesias with numerous contributions by others.

9.11 Nancy's Cold/Wet Cycling Tips

From: Name removed by request

Here are some clothing suggestions, mix and match as you wish:

Rain gear : I forked out the dollars for gore-tex when I did a week tour
... and I'm real glad I did. The stuff works reasonably as claimed,
waterproof, and relatively breathable. (When the humidity is high, no
fabric will work completely at letting sweat evaporate.) Unfortunately,
typical prices are high. There are cheaper rainsuits, which I haven't tried.
For short rides, or when the temperature is over about 50F, I don't
usually wear the rain pants, as wet legs don't particularly bother me.

Waterproof shoe covers. When the weather gets icky, I give up on
the cleats (I'm not riding for performance then, anyway) and put
the old-style pedals back on. This is basically because of the
shoe covers I have that work better with touring shoes. The ones
I have are made by Burley, and are available from Adventure Cycling Association,
though I got them at a local shop. They are just the cover, no
insulation. I continue to use them in winter since they are windproof,
and get the insulation I need from warm socks. These aren't neoprene,
but rather some high-tech waterproof fabric.

Gaiters that hikers and cross-country skiers wear can help keep road
spray off your legs and feet.

Toe clip covers. I got them from Nashbar; they are insulated and fit
over the toe clips ... another reason for going back to those pedals.
They help quite a bit when the temperature goes into the 30's and below;
they are too warm above that.

[Joshua Putnam <Joshua_Putnam@happy-man.com> reports:
Nashbar has apparently discontinued its toe clip covers.

Traditional toe clip covers, also called toe warmers, are still
made by Kucharik Bicycle Clothing. Kucharik's model is not
insulated, just waterproof nylon cloth. It may be hard to find
a shop that carries them, but if you have a good relationship
with your local shop, they might be interested in dealing with
Kucharik, which also makes great wool jerseys and tights, arm and
leg warmers, etc.

The company is:

Kucharik Clothing
1745 W 182nd St
Gardena, CA 90248

Please remember that this is a manufacturer/distributor, not a
mail order catalog. ]

For temperatures in the 40's I usually find that a polypropylene shirt,
lightweight sweater (mine is polypro) and wind shell work well; I use
the gore-tex jacket, since I have it, but any light weight jacket
is OK. I have a lightweight pair of nylon-lycra tights, suitable in
the 50's, and maybe the 40's; a heavier pair of polypro tights, for
40's, and a real warm pair of heavy, fleece-lined tights for colder
weather. (I have been comfortable in them down to about 15-deg, which
is about the minimum I will ride in.) My tights are several years
old, and I think there are lots more variations on warm tights out now.
I use thin polypro glove liners with my cycling gloves when it is a little
cool; lightweight gloves for a little bit cooler; gore-tex and thinsulate
gloves for cold weather (with the glove liners in the really cold weather.)
It is really my fingers that limit my cold weather riding, as anything
any thicker than that limits my ability to work brake levers.
(Note: this may change this year as I've just bought a mountain bike;
the brake levers are much more accessible than on my road bike. It may
be possible to ride with warm over-mitts over a wool or similar glove.)

When it gets down to the 20's, or if it's windy at warmer (!) temperatures,
I'll add the gore-tex pants from my rain suit, mostly as wind protection,
rather than rain protection. Cheaper wind pants are available (either
at bike shops or at sporting goods stores) that will work just as well
for that use.

Warm socks. There are lots of choices; I use 1 pair of wool/polypropylene
hiking socks (fairly thick). Then with the rain covers on my shoes to
keep out wind, and (if necessary) the toe clip covers, I'm warm enough.
There are also thin sock liners, like my glove liners, but I haven't
needed them; there are also neoprene socks, which I've never tried,
and neoprene shoe covers, which I've also never tried, and wool socks,
and ski socks ...

I have a polypropylene balaclava which fits comfortably under my helmet;
good to most of the temperatures I'm willing to ride in; a little too
warm for temperatures above freezing, unless it's also windy. I also have
an ear-warmer band, good for 40's and useful with the balaclava for
miserable weather. I also have a neoprene face mask; dorky looking, but
it works. It is definitely too hot until the temperature (or wind) gets
severe. I sometimes add ski goggles for the worst conditions, but they
limit peripheral vision, so I only use them if I'm desperate.

For temperatures in the 30's, and maybe 20's, I wear a polarfleece
pullover thing under the outer shell. Combining that with or without
polypro (lightweight) sweater or serious duty wool sweater gives a
lot of options. Sometimes I add a down vest -- I prefer it *outside*
my shell (contrary to usual wisdom) because I usually find it too
warm once I start moving and want to unzip it, leaving the wind
shell closed for wind protection. I only use the down vest when it's
below about 15 F.


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