I have a history of writing seasonal articles here at JBarCycling, usually noting each change of the season, often accompanied by my clearly succinct observations or vital bits of information and unsolicited advice. After all, I don't want to have my readers stumbling blindly through life on the bike without the benefit of my self-acclaimed wisdom. Well, folks, I have fallen down on the job and for that I am sorry. I hope you've all been able to get by on your own, as I have allowed us to slip through the soft, warm days of the Arkansas fall and straight into the teeth of harsh, dark winter without so much as a whimper.
The cold weather is pushing me, so we'll just fast forward to full on winter mode.
We can usually get by with arm and knee warmers, base layers, and maybe a vest at this time of year.
With unusually cold November temperatures slamming our area, it has already been necessary to pull out.....everything!
Year 'round cycling is the norm for many of us here in Central Arkansas, and we can usually enjoy some fairly mild conditions even in the heart of winter. If recent weather is any indication, we may have to up our game, or at least up our gear, to get through this winter.
Here are some things every cyclist should have to ride through the winter:
Various base layers
Full-finger gloves in a couple of weights
Ear band, hats
Warm socks, wool
Toe covers, shoe covers
This stuff lasts for years, so don't scrimp.
I did without a jacket for several years by simply layering up with a vest, and multiple base layers and arm warmers, but a Windstop jacket with good ventilation features is a nice piece to own. I've also come to love my bib knickers. They are a little more robust than bib shorts with knee warmers and are comfortable in a range of temperatures from the 40's to the 60's. When worn with knee socks, they offer an even wider range of comfort, not to mention the opportunities for fashion statements limited only by your sock collection.
It's not really hard to keep your core warm, and an ear band or skull cap will usually suffice for the head. The hands and feet are the weak link for most of us.
Good socks, shoe covers, and a little chemical heat will keep your feet warm.
I've put chemical hand warmers in my shoe covers on top of my shoes to good effect, and the thinner toe warmers above stick to your socks under your toes. The label promises 6-hours, but I'll rate them at 2-2 1/2 of blessed toe comfort. On the coldest days, they're well worth the price of $1.99. I've got no special advice for your hands, other than to have good gloves.
The rites of winter-Ceremonial Taping of the Shoes.
Use electrical tape to seal the vent hole in the soles of your bike shoes.
This ritual takes place each fall. In looking back, the date has been remarkably consistent, having taken place on November 14th, 16th and 18th in recent years. We got a reprieve in 2012, when the taping took place on the winter solstice..
If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
*If you are not familiar with the rules, then you need to stop now, read and learn.
After waiting for temperatures to rise above freezing on Saturday morning. I ran into John and Ian finishing up the CARVE ride out east. They reported a large group on a very cold morning.
My badass friend Robert reported a 9-degree ride in the early season snow near Steamboat Springs, CO.
It's way too early to give in!
We may be in for a long winter, so it's too early to hang up the bike!
Gear up and get out.