If you’ve been training all summer chances are you’ve built up a certain level of cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength. I see too many people use cold weather as an excuse to do nothing. But In reality, that’s where the gains are made. All of the inconveniences of training in the Winter are an actuality for everyone the cluttered schedule, the lack of events and races, and what I hear the most is the weather. But those inconveniences are a reality for all of us.
And unlike everyone else, you plan on cruising around in the Spring with your new fitness level. Many people spend the Spring frantically training to try and get back to the fitness level they had in the Fall. Often times, unsuccessfully.
Now they are certainly are days when it’s too cold, too icy and dangerous. But unless you live in Alaska, that is probably not every day in the Winter. Even if you do live in Alaska, it’s still possible. We actually do have an athlete that lives there and trains outdoors. He wears ski gear, goggles and commits to a full beard so he can ride his snow bike outside. Now I’m not suggesting you put yourself through that, but on the days where it’s feasible, and you feel like you can’t take another second in your trainer pain cave. Get bundled up and get outside.
It can be confusing knowing what to wear, so I created this chart to take away the confusion of what to wear. I do like to er on the side of caution. I created this chart based on what the pro’s wear in cold races in Europe in the Springtime and training in Colorado in the Fall in the Winter. I recommend screenshot this chart so you can refer back to it.
Windproof Jacket - If you live in a wet climate then a Waterproof Jacket is better but I’ve found that wearing a Waterproof jacket in dry conditions can make me even colder, generally waterproof clothing isn’t very breathable and therefore isn’t good at wicking away sweat. So on most days a windproof will keep your body heat in and keep the moisture out. This convertible Castelli Perfetto Convertible is a staple in our wardrobe and Gore-Tex material I find to be very versatile in both wet and dry climates. I also like that the sleeves are removable it makes for a great Fall and Spring cycling piece.
Cycling Shoe Covers - Your extremities are the first to go when it’s cold and it doesn’t matter how warm the rest of your body is if your hands and feet are cold you are going to be miserable which is why I recommend purchasing shoe covers. The Castelli Diluvio Pro Shoe Covers will keep your feet dry and insulated. Many people make the mistake of doubling up on socks, but often this does the opposite and restricts blood flow to the feet, making them even colder. I recommend a thin pair of wool socks and shoe covers that cover your ankles. This will keep the heat in without causing your feet to go numb.
Long fingered gloves - I also recommend purchasing a pair of gloves designed specifically for cycling. Ski gloves also work well. It’s not a bad idea to pack two pairs of gloves one heavier and one lighter—to handle temperature shifts. A pair of lighter wool gloves can offer a bit more finger dexterity as well, making flat tire changes faster and easier. Refer to the chart I’ve found Diluvio C Glove to my be most versatile pair of gloves that work for both moderate and very cold Colorado days.
Winter Cycling Hat - Your hat should accomplish just two things keep your head warm and fit under the helmet nicely. Your hat should not impact the fit of your helmet. I find that a lot of cycling hats do in fact which is why I recommend Viva 2 Thermo Skully it’s thin and fits snuggly under my helmet and most importantly cover my ears.
Leg Warmers - Leg warmers will help you stay warm in a range of temperatures. When you get cold, your muscles tighten up, causing them to become shorter. This puts pressure on tendons and ligaments, which can cause tendonitis. That’s why we recommend wearing some knee or leg warmers when it’s below 60 degrees. It’s also the reason you pro-cyclists often seem overdressed. When purchasing leg warmers, make sure to stay in place but aren’t so tight they restrict your pedal stroke. They should be compact enough to store in your back pocket if needed. The Castelli Nano-flex Leg warmers are my favorite because they keep my legs warm and dry and don’t fall down or make me feel like a sausage-like some of the other brands I’ve tried.
No matter how much awesome clothing you have you are going to have to make some changes to your training just like your wardrobe. I recommend keeping weekday under 90 minutes and focusing on intensity. You should be more focused on stimulating your training zones and staying warm rather than logging in a lot of miles.
You can use weekends to log some longer days because you can ride at the most optimal time of day. On my longer rides, I will do loops never more than 20 miles from home that way if there is an issue with weather conditions or my bike I can get the help I need. Another tip, the colder is it the flatter you should keep your elevation. You will be warm and toasty maybe even sweating up the climb but when you descend it will be game over. When I first started riding I made the mistake of riding 5 miles up Flagstaff Climb in Boulder in the dead of winter only to find myself hypothermic on the way down eventually having to seek shelter in a coffee shop on Pearl Street.
If you do ride climbs in in cold do not exceed 10 minutes up in anyone direction and instead consider hill repeats as an alternative. By having the right gear and the right training you should be set come Springtime. But for more tips on how to keep the mojo flowing during the holidays click here.
Note- I was not paid for, and we do not receive an affiliate commission for these recommendations. These are honestly the products that we have used for years. Every Winter, I still wear the Castelli Poggio Jacket that my husband, Tom, raced Giro in 5 years ago. I guess that’s one of the benefits of being married to a climber! But I believe in the quality, style, functionality, and fit of Castelli, which is why we continue to use them for our Cinch Cycling Team.
If you have any questions about this article or anything else please feel free to reach out Kourtney@cinchcycling.com