How to Dress For Winter Cycling

I love cycling in the cold but the secret is to dress for it so you don’t cry with misery during your ride. Once you got that down, you’ll get to enjoy the other benefits such as not sweating and no tan lines— how great is that? Dressing for cold-weather cycling can get tricky because if you overdress, you will may overheat especially if there are a lot of hills on your route.

You know you’ve dressed properly if you are “slightly” cold in the first 5-10 minutes of your ride (okay, maybe very fucking cold) but after that, your body be warmed up enough so you won’t even notice it anymore. That’s why cycling does to you— gets you into the zone and you barely notice the elements. My worst memories are always the first 5 minutes of riding after a long break— I can remember being so cold that my entire body will be shaking uncontrollably, making it hard to stay on the bike, and my hands will be completely numb despite my gloves… but I always know that my body will warm up so I just suck it up. Do it over and over again— that’s how you train your brain to not get bothered by the little things.

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Cold-weather cycling calls for a pretty scarf. As you can see, I’m wearing shorts in this photo because it was taken in mid-October where it was still kind of warm in Vancouver (gasp!!). But as long as my head and neck is warm, the rest of my body will be okay.

How to Dress For Winter Cycling:

  1. Keep your head warm with a cap. This Pearl iZUMi Transfer Skull Cap is my favorite.
  2. Keep your neck warm with a pretty scarf. I like to wear my own scarves, nothing cycling specific.
  3. Keep your hands and fingers warm. When your fingers are too numb to switch gears, it really-fucking-sucks. And it gets worse when you arrive at your warm destination because your finger tips will feel like they are BURNING.
  4. Keep your feet and toes warm with thick wool socks and this Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Shoe Cover.
  5. Layer your clothes: base layer + a soft or wind/water resistant shell depending on weather. I find anything more could be overkill because my body tends to heat up. If it’s freezing out, wear an extra fleece/light jacket in between but of course, this all depends how easy/hard you are planning to ride.

I have a leaner build so I lose body heat really quickly and when I get cold, it is really-fucking-miserable, but I find that as long as I tackle the first four on the list, I can wear anything— as long as I have a base layer and some kind of light jacket. If I start feeling cold, I will just rider harder. 😉

I love love love the commuter life! Stuck in a car with the heat on? No way! I prefer the feeling of not being able to move my face and frozen eyeballs (yes it’s possible). I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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