Riding & Racing in Colder Weather
by Hannah Shell
by Hannah Shell
Cold weather riding is something that we have to accept as lovers of the outdoors. However, we can prepare for it and wear the right clothing. There’s a few basic tips that’ll make your cold weather riding more comfortable, and Hannah is here to share some from her own experiences as a racer.
Two major factors that will improve your cold weather riding experience are adding layers and the material of the layer in contact with your skin. If you sweat and the fibers of the fabric constrict, that layer is going to start pulling warmth from your body. Merino wool does not constrict when wet, so it’s a gold standard for base layers in cold weather. I always wear a Pearl Izumi official merino layer in the winter. They make a lighter and heavier one, today I opted for heavier, but on other days I’ll vary this. The main thing is that it’s a great fabric and will definitely look after you as a base. On top of this, obviously choose the right fabric for the event, and one that both keeps you warm and helps with moisture control – in and out!
For hands, I do Pearl Izumi official AmFib lobster gloves with a merino wool liner. The liner gloves are helpful if you’re taking the outer glove off to eat, and having the lobsters does make a huge difference in keeping fingers toasty. Once again, merino wool is a natural fabric that controls and regulates your temperature well, and if it gets damp, dries quickly too.
The best trick for warm feet is a high quality merino wool sock (Pearl Izumi makes TONS in cool designs) paired with hand warmers inside the shoe. I ride Shimano road winter boots, but if you don’t have winter shoes doubling up shoe covers is a good substitute. Good shoe covers will not only keep the water out, but it’ll add that extra layer of warmth too. On a really long ride, if the weather is bad, maybe pack some extra socks. There’s nothing like dry feet for making you feel better.
If you’re riding hard, the head will soon warm up, so don’t over clothe yourself too much. You can wear a skull cap under the helmet, but you also need to allow the head to breathe. A good quality neck warmer is usually quite sufficient for pulling up around your chin and keeping the wind out. Merino wool is a great choice for winter accessories, as it’s natural and keeps you warm even when wet.
Remember that you’ll be riding and that your effort will transfer to heat. Now, off you go and enjoy some winter gravel trails 🙂