It was -2 Celcius (28 degrees fahrenheit) this morning when I left for the office. Colder than usual. Colder than we generally get in these parts. But I was prepared. I find if my head, hands and feet are warm I am fine. This time of year, I keep the following 6 clothing items in my pannier all of the time.
- A windproof/waterproof helmet cover. Road cycling helmets are designed to keep you cool, to maximize the air flow when you are on the road so you don’t overheat. At least in the hot summer months. They don’t do the job in the winter. Several years back I purchased a windproof/waterproof helmet cover. It’s the best purchase I have ever made. I wear it often – fall, winter and spring. It blocks the cold wind and keeps out the rain.
- A fleece toque. I purchased the fleece toque pictured above several years back from MEC. It is loose enough not to flatten my hair, long enough to cover my ears and thin enough to comfortably fit under my helmet.
- A fleece neck warmer. This one is home made. It’s not difficult or expensive to make.
- Winter gloves. These gloves are not cycling specific. I use them for other outdoor winter activities. They are padded and have leather palms to help grip the handlebars and smooth, slippery bar ends.
- Wool socks. A must, at least for me. These socks are made by Smartwool and are cycling specific. I wear them fall, winter and spring.
- Windproof/waterproof booties. A must. Cycling shoes, like road helmets, are designed to keep you cool during the warm summer months. The shoe tops are made of mesh to let cool air in. And, they do. Your feet can quickly get uncomfortably cold without booties. This time of year I switch to a wind and waterproof pair.
The rest of me is layered with warm clothing. On top, I had 4 layers including a windproof jacket. And, on the bottom, I wore windproof tights over long underwear. I was cozy.
It took me several years to figure this out. These clothing items are not expensive, maybe $150, but they make an otherwise unbearable ride into an enjoyable adventure.