Winter has well and truly hit Australia and whilst it would be great to start our rides in the warmth of the midday sun, the reality for most of us is that early morning rides are a staple. Sure, you could wrap yourself up in bed and wait for the sun, but that isn’t going to help your cycling fitness.
So what is the best way to avoid the cold and actually enjoy the beautiful morning sunrise rides through winter? Layers! You may have thought the best thing to do is to buy the biggest and warmest cycling jacket available. However, this will keep you warm whilst you are getting your bike ready or driving out to meet the group, but once you start riding, the big winter jacket could actually decrease your body temperature.
As you start to sweat, your cycling jersey will gather the moisture and instead of being able to dry quickly, your big warm cycling jacket will keep your jersey nice and moist, ultimately defeating the purpose of keeping you warm. Unless you are in sub-zero temperatures, avoid the big jacket. Instead – layer up!
The best way to keep your body warm and dry in an Australian winter is to wear a few layers of winter apparel. Here are some key items you will need to keep your body warm during your winter rides.
- Base layer: This is a lightweight mesh singlet or tee that is designed to sit close to your body and wick the moisture to the outside of the fabric.
- Cycling jersey: Layer two is your standard cycling jersey – try to avoid wearing your ultra light, summer mesh jersey meant for hot days.
- Gilet or wind vest: For layer three, choose a good quality gilet or wind vest. These are usually lightweight and portable. You don’t need the biggest and heaviest wind vest you can find, just a good quality gilet will work.
- Arm warmers: They’re a fantastic way to keep your arms warm and a staple of any cycling wardrobe. As the sun rises and everything warms up, simply take off the arm warmers and store them in your jersey pocket. Style tip: Wear your arm warmers with your jersey sleeves over the top of your arm warmers.
- Cycling gloves: It’s important to keep your extremities warm. I recommend buying a fairly lightweight pair of fingered gloves; the easier you can move your fingers, the better. Again, there is no need to get the big, thick snow gloves; these will only make your hands sweat and you’ll ultimately get colder during the ride. If you need a second layer, use a pair of cotton inner gloves underneath your riding gloves.
- Toe warmers or booties: Toe warmers are exactly that. They’re designed to keep your toes warm – the part of your foot that hits the cold air first. If you are looking for the full pro look and would like to change up the colour of your kicks to suit your outfit, then a full bootie is a great way to keep your entire foot warm. Better yet, get a pair of VeloToze and keep your feet dry in case you happen to be caught out in the rain. Style tip: Make sure you don’t have cycling socks that are longer than your booties.
- Headband or cycling cap: Headbands are a great way to keep another extremity warm when the cool air is rushing by; you can lose a lot of body heat through your head. Style tip: For extra style points, wear a trendy cycling cap. You will look cool whilst keeping your head nice and warm. Remember – peak up.
- Leg warmers: If you’re in Queensland, there is never a need to wear leg warmers. Period. Leg warmers are an absolute last resort and should be avoided at all costs*.
If you happen to live in extremely cold parts of Australia, ie. dipping below zero, then you may need to wear the big cycling jacket. However, be aware that if you take a big jacket with you and the temperature increases as you ride, you will most likely sit uncomfortably in your own sweat until you get home.
Remember, to keep yourself warm this winter – layer up!
*Note: Ricky is from Queensland, a sub-tropical climate, and has not experienced ‘real winter’ riding conditions. If you do choose to wear leg warmers, they can be a relatively cheap way to keep your legs warmer.
By Ricky Swindale – Pushys Sponsored Athlete