I have been riding in the cold recently. And by cold, I mean below 60 degrees. I know that doesn’t amount to anything to most of you, but for me, that is cold. It is cold and wet here, and the descents can be long. 50 degrees in the fog can be pretty bone chilling. It is cold.
This leads me to ask a simple question.
What is the best way to dress for such a cold occasion? Surely this is an art I should master.
I hate to admit it, but it takes me a solid 20 minutes to prepare to embark on my foggy, drizzly ride most times. Actually, I am being generous, 20 minutes is rocket speed for me these days. I must put on leg warmers, sock shoe covers (heaven forbid the white Sidis get dirty), wool socks, thermal vest, and well, you know, the works. How do you do this in the best manner possible? And how many times do I have to make the mistake of getting fully dressed only to realize after piling on each layer so precisely, that I then I have to use the restroom? There must be an art to all of this.
1. As silly as it may seem, socks should be put on first. They should be wool, and not my typical “shortie” socks I like–those lead to cold ankles. Instead, they should at least be a standard length, if not tall ones. Defeet makes the best options.
2. Once the socks are in place, the leg warmers can easily be put on over the socks to limit any gaps. The legs warmers should be placed on before the bibs, in my opinion, which leads to a much more ridiculous sight. However, this allows for a smooth leg warmer with no wrinkles under the bib.
3. The bibs are then on, which will glide seemlessly over the legwarmers, eliminating the chance of the dreaded “leg cleavage”…That gap of skin that can be seen between the leg warmer (or knee warmers, which I never wear) and bib. I have also heard it referred to as the “coin slot”. I much prefer “leg cleavage”.
4. The baselayer. Whether your preference is for the short sleeve, the long sleeve, or whatever… I think I like baselayers in cold temperatures. I am not a cycling baselayer purist by any means. There are those that wear a baselayer in any condition. I make sure to wear them when it is cold.
5. Heartrate monitor, if you are a data junkie like myself. There is nothing worse then suiting up and realizing you now have to thread your HR strap under your baselayer, through your bib straps, under your sports bra, and such.
6. Long sleeve jersey. I place my flat fixing “stuff”, if heaven forbid I actually have to use it, in the pocket…The blonde ponytail still works, right?
7. Cell phone/iPod in plastic freezer bag. This is usually when I check the text messages for the final time, thread the head phones into my ear, and place them into the pocket of my jersey.
8. Vest or jacket. If they are luxurious enough to have pockets in them, I place my food in those because they are more accessible. My food these days are a mixture of bars, shortbread cookies, candied pecans and biscotti.
9. Use the bathroom one more time before I constrict myself for the next 4 hours. Chamois Creme. D-Z Nuts. Need I say more? Don’t confuse chamois creme with your embrocation.
10. Helmet, glasses, ear bud, RoadID (I wouldn’t leave home without it!)….
11. Maybe check my phone one more time to realize I am running late, and my riding partner is waiting for me. I have not put on my gloves for this very reason. I then can text a response back before I realize that I might have to use the bathroom again.
12. Bibs up…jersey zipped.
13. Shoes, sock covers. Make sure your shoes are tightened before placing on the sock covers!
14. Calibrate SRM. We wouldn’t want that power to be slightly off due to the humidity changing, and I am a science nerd….but you knew that!
15. Consider checking phone again, but instead just find a happy song to listen to as I start my adventure for the day and make a mental list for what I have with me…
16. Gloves on, always the last thing. I don’t like gloves…but long fingered wool gloves make a difference. You can actually feel your fingers to shift!
17. Ride. Finally!
See, this does take a lot of time. Do you think I have the art mastered? Not quite, but I am working on it. It took me 5 miles yesterday into my ride to realize I had forgotten my gloves. Who does that?
Then there are different conditions if it is raining, if I need a head covering…if….chamois creme? Embrocation?
Best of luck to all of you and your cold riding endeavors which are probably much more dramatic than mine!