The key to comfortable riding in cold weather is to dress properly for it. Generally you want to start out being a little cold before you start riding. As your muscles warm up, so will the rest of your body. In the end, you’ll probably end up having to take clothes off, which leads us to our first tip – layering.
The whole idea of layering is to trap heat in between the different layers of clothing. As you start to get hot, you can remove the outside layer.
With layering, you want a good moisture-wicking layer next to your skin. There are many different types of clothes just made for cyclists out of lightweight, performance-based polyester-based fabrics. These fabrics transfer moisture from your skin through the fabric and up to the next layer. By keeping your skin dry, you prevent heat loss through evaporation.
For the next layer, you want to wear clothing that has thermal characteristics, usually made from a polyester also. Not only will it retain heat, but also allow the transfer of moisture through it and to your outer layer.
For the outer layer, you want something that not only holds the warmth in but also keep the cold air and wind out. Usually nylon is the best fabric for this purpose.
Protecting Your Head
Tip, number 2 – you can lose up to 30% of your body heat through your head. A good cycling cap with ear flaps will protect both your head and ears. In extreme cold weather, you will want to wear a balaclava which is a full hood that will keep your face and neck warm.
Riding in cold weather can make your eyes water, so wear a good pair of wrap-around cycling glasses. And finally, don’t forget about your extremities.
Protecting the Hands and Feet
Tip number 3 – wear a good pair of either full-fingered cycling gloves or even cycling mitts if the weather is really cold. Without protection, you run the risk of getting frostbite. As far as protecting your feet, start out with a good pair of thermal socks made from a moisture-wicking material. Then put on your cycling shoes and cover them with cycling booties. If your feet get hot, take off the booties and replace them with toe covers. This will let some of the heat dissipate to keep your feet warm, but not hot.
Cycling in extreme temperatures, either hot or cold, can still be enjoyable. The trick is knowing how to dress properly for the weather conditions so you can stay warm, but not get overheated or wet with sweat. If so, then you will get really cold when you stop riding.