The Sprinter's Guide to Cycling Volume 4: Cold Weather Riding

Volume 4: The Sprinter’s Guide to Cold Weather Riding “I love to ride – as long as it is sunny, downhill and with a tailwind” – anonymous sprinter

Today in Chicago it was 53 degrees when I left work… and windy… and cloudy. Despite my bike being in the trunk and a reasonable departure time from work, I went straight home. No ride.

Machismo aside, lets face it, when it comes to riding in poor weather, sprinters are pansies. Here’s one sprinter’s guide to riding in less-than-optimal weather organized by temperature:

  • <20 degrees = no riding. I hate balaclavas and other than using chemical heating pads I’ve not found shoe insulators that would keep my toes warm below 20... in the sun. Spin bike in the basement here I come. Clothes: bike shorts, no shirt in the 50 degree basement
  • 20-32 degrees: Must be both of the following: sunny and no wind
  • Clothes: two cycling caps – one w/ ear covers, warm “3 finger” gloves, wicking t-shirt, thin under-armour type long underwear – tops and bottoms, full heavy bibs and heavy long sleeve jersey. Start w/ windbreaker and remove after 20 minutes.
  • 32 – 43 degrees: Must be at least one of the following – either sunny, or no wind
  • Clothes: Same as above if either cloudy or windy. If sunny and calm, same as above but no vest, only one hat, and no t-shirt.
  • 44 – 55 degrees: Can be cloudy and windy but I won’t like itClothes: Same as above if both cloudy or windy. If sunny and calm, knickers and long sleeve jersey, hat and light gloves. Remove hat after 20 minutes.
  • 55+ degrees: Riding in most conditions… except rain

Rain Rules: Never start a ride when it is raining. Turn around if it rains in the first 5 minutes. However, once warmed up, continue riding regardless of conditions (even thunderstorms, hail, tornados). For racing, if rain is 100% assured, just don’t go. If traveling less than 45 minutes, don’t register if it starts raining – go home. Otherwise, if you’ve traveled more than 45 minutes, or if it starts after you’ve registered, (grudgingly) race in the rain and complain bitterly after...

Next up: The Sprinter’s Guide to bike maintenance