The last couple of times I’ve been out on my bike, the temperature has been much cooler – and with the wind direction from the north, it’s felt really (really) cold.
If you ask when’s my favourite time to be outside, I will always answer with the warmer months. I feel the cold deep in my bones and have a natural tendency to want to hibernate in winter. However, never let it be said that I’m a fair weather outdoor girl – if you check any of my social media channels, you’ll see me wrapped and trussed up like a michelin man while the snow is falling.
So with that in mind, you might be wondering what I do to get myself out of the door throughout winter when really I’d rather be paying homage to Hygge and curling up in front of the wood burner with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate.
Well, it’s all about having the right clothing to keep me warm (without overheating or feeling restricted). Layers are your friend when the temperature dips. Here’s how it looks……
First up is base layers
I recently bought a thermal/wicking vest for the grand total of £4.99 from Aldi. It’s not the most practical colour (it has a lovely tie-dyed mud hue to it after being washed with my other bike clothing) but it’s been a superb bit of kit in my layering and I’d love to get my hands on another one.
For my legs, I either wear thermal knee warmers under my shorts or when I want to make sure I’m fully covered, these long legged beauties do the trick. They’re stretchy cycling leggings with padding integrated at the back.
I bought them from a stall at Kilnsey Show in the Yorkshire Dales many years ago and sadly I’ve not been able to track them down again.
The mid layer
Ok, so maybe that’s not quite the right description as there’s a mid and outer layer in the picture, but you get my point!
This winter I’ve been lucky enough to test out an EDZ merino long sleeved top. I love everything about it – the bright colour, the fit, how it washes and, importantly, the fact that it’s one of the only merino tops I’ve worn which does not make my skin feel itchy.
The shorts pictured are Madison Flo DWR which have a water resistant back (see my review here). They’re fab, but when it get’s really wet and muddy I swap them for a pair of Madison waterproof shorts (handy hint, buy big as there’s no stretch in the waterproof material).
Remember I mentioned layering?
Here’s where I add another thin layer on top of my merino. The one pictured is a Madison Flo cycling top but it gets swapped for something slightly thicker when the temperature really drops.
I also wear a buff round my neck (it’s easy enough to remove if I start to warm up), IXS knee pads (they serve a double purpose – knee protection and knee warmth) and waterproof socks from good old Aldi again.
I sometimes put a thin sock under these to help with wind chill (luckily my shoes are roomy enough). The only time these don’t work is when my foot is completely submerged in river crossings.
My jacket is an ION waterproof 3 layer jacket which has lots of stretch (fab when on the bike).
The gloves are Gore Windstopper which are a few years old now. They have a bit of room in them (to trap warmth, but it also means I can fit a very thin liner glove underneath when it’s freezing cold).
Under my helmet, I wear a windstopper headband (so my ears are covered but not my whole head), or a thin skull cap.
Some extra thoughts
You may already have sussed this out by now, but the main point I’m making is to layer your clothing when you’re heading out in cold weather. If you get too hot, you can always take a layer away. I also carry a very light/thin top in my rucksack in case I start to feel really cold, plus a hat (which is sheer luxury if you stop for any length of time).
I’ve been part of discussions lately about waterproof socks and the jury is out for me still. I love my Aldi ones but once my foot gets submerged, they do hold the water. Other people have said that wearing merino wool socks works better for them, but I’m hesitant to try as my feet can get really cold and at least with the waterproof ones, there’s an element of wind resistance.
My shoes are Specialised 2FO which have performed really well in all conditions.
On a final note, make sure you have lots of warm dry clothing to change into after your ride, and treat yourself to that Hygge evening when you get home.
Happy riding, see you on the trail 🙂