There’s an old Scandinavian saying which states that “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”. And as far as the coming months are concerned, this still rings incredibly true for die-hard cyclists. For as we head into winter, a simple ensemble of spandex shorts and top will no longer repel the weather, regardless of how furiously one cycles. The solution? Wrap yourself up in some of these winter cycling essentials including a pair of good quality merino socks.
The Base Layer
A base layer is essential for keeping warm during the colder months. However, it does a lot more than just retain heat. A good base layer should also wick any sweat worked up, away from your skin. In doing this, it will help to minimalist that chilly, uncomfortable feeling you get when you take a break, and the built up moisture begins to cool. Generally speaking, you’ll find two main types of base layer: merino wool or manmade fibre. As you’d expect, merino wool is very comfortable and warm. But the downside is that it doesn’t repel moisture as effectively as artificial fibres. Essentially, it’s down to you to decide your priorities.
Good Quality Gloves
Good quality gloves are essential winter cycling apparel. However, deciding on a pair isn’t as easy as you’d imagine. It’s a fine balance between being cosy and having clammy, sweat-soaked hands. Crazy as it may sound, don’t go for gloves which feel instantly warm when you put them on. After 15 minutes of cycling, warm will quickly turn to waterlogged.
A Waterproof Jacket
Keeping warm is one thing. But keeping dry whilst the rain pelts down around you is another thing altogether. This is one area where you really can’t afford to scrimp, at least not if you plan on staying dry. You’ll see plenty of cut-price soft shell riding jackets, which seem like an absolute bargain at the time. But ask yourself if it still feels like a bargain when the rain starts seeping in through the poorly-machined seams. The simple solution? Invest in a quality waterproof jacket from High Octane Sport (or another trusted supplier).
Worth their Weight in Gold
For those with the cycling bug, taking on the harsh terrains during winter is no easy task, especially if you don’t have the correct gear. So don’t be too careful with your money. A good quality base layer, as well as gloves and a waterproof jacket are worth their weight in gold.
Go with the flow. Instead of worrying about staying dry – think about staying warm. Wool keeps you warm when wet – synthetics make you cold very quickly.
I am rotund rather than cyclist-shaped so there is nothing on the market that fits me – everything seems to be made for people with an athletic build. I keep the rain out (moderately successfully) by wearing a Goretex cagoule intended for hiking, purchased ages ago when I could still afford such things, and wearing a high-visibility shell on top. The shell is not particularly breathable (despite what it said in Blacks) but my chosen underlayer is. I have yet to find anything that keeps my legs dry as whatever I’ve tried the water goes straight through it and soaks into my clothes.