Hey guess what you guys! The season of winter arctic polar vortex superstorm blasts is here (yes, we know it’s always beautiful in Arizona and California…hold the gloating please), but in our opinion it’s way too early in the year to be riding the trainer yet.
We’ll be using these 6 Essentials to get through next week, and so should you.
Daylight savings time is upon us. We’re still not sure if we fall back or fall forward, or what is happening. All we know is that it’s getting dark earlier, so that means it’s time to mount up some lights on that bike of yours. Even if you don’t plan on riding at night, it’s still a good idea to carry some with you.
EXPERT TIP: Even if you have a nice set of high-power lights mounted on your bike, carry a set of small LED safety lights with you. That way even if the battery dies, you still have some way for drivers to see you.
It’s cold out there. Bundle up with a good cycling thermal or softshell jacket. Thermal jackets do an excellent job of holding in heat, but if the weather is windy or wet, you’ll need an additional jacket on top. Softshell jackets are wind- and water-resistant, but still highly breathable, so they’re an excellent choice for all-weather riding.
EXPERT TIP: Before heading out for a winter ride, take a minute to really think about your layering. Example: on windy days, we usually forgo wearing a jersey under a jacket. Instead we’ll just wear a baselayer, a wind-resistant vest, and then the jacket on top. Because we’re working harder to battle the wind, overheating is a real concern, but so we also want to keep our core warm.
When you go for a bike ride, protect your legs and knees with a good pair of thermal tights. Some come with chamois pads already sewn in, some don’t and can be worn over your favorite shorts.
EXPERT TIP: On really cold days, you can layer knee or leg warmers under your tights for extra warmth.
4. Shoe Covers
Don’t try to wear super thick socks with your cycling shoes. Instead, use a pair of shoe covers to both protect your shoes from road spray, and provide vital insulation.
EXPERT TIP: If the roads are wet, it’s really cold, or the weather is really bad, you can layer up on cycling shoe covers. Wear an insulated pair underneath, and then put a waterproof pair on top.
Nothing is worse than having your fingers go numb on a ride, with no way to warm them up. Having a great pair of insulated cycling gloves can keep in the heat, keep out the wind, and wick away moisture.
EXPERT TIP: No matter how cold it is, you’re going to sweat on your ride—that’s just a fact of life. To avoid the misery of wet gloves on a cold day, bring a spare pair of gloves in a plastic bag (we usually add in an extra hat as well) and change them out at the half way point.
Ever had the water freeze in your bottles? Not fun. Almost is bad is the super cold slush-water that feels like a dental drill. To keep your water from freezing, use insulated cycling bottles.
EXPERT TIP: To keep yourself and your bottles warm, try filling them with hot (but not boiling) herbal tea instead of water. It’s comforting on a long ride, and will keep your bottles from freezing. Another tip: in the depths of last year’s Winter Vortex, we took to adding a teaspoon of vodka to our water bottles to lower the freezing temperature a little bit (we’re not sure if this actually did anything, but the bro science made sense to us).