Winter Cycling: Cold Weather Training Hacks
It is no secret that here in the Northeast it gets cold, snowy and icy during the winter months. While the weather can be downright frightful from November to April here in Maine, I don’t let that keep me from riding outside, even if it means cycling in cold weather, as much as I can.
Since cold weather training gear can get pricey, here are 5 budget conscious adaptations I use on training rides during the cold weather months to be safe, warm and comfortable:
Frame: In the winter I switch from a road/time trial bike to a solid, medium weight, mountain bike frame. I find it more practical in the winter as it allows me to more adeptly dodge potholes and navigate poor road conditions. It also allows me to build strength in a fun and alternative way.
Tires: Just like my car, I put studded snow tires on my bike in the winter. Studded tires provide better traction to move through snow, slush, and sandy surfaces. If you treat them right the tires will last for more than one season.
Pedals: I switch from clip-in pedals to standard steel pedals with toe clips. I find plastic pedals are slippery when cold. The toe clips allows me to wear a more cold weather friendly shoe and allows me to get my foot out and onto the ground quickly in case I need to make a sudden stop.
Illumination: In the late fall and winter months in Maine it can be dark for up to 15 hours a day….while I try to stay off the road during the dark morning and evening commute I often ride early in the morning. To see and bee seen I mount two LED headlights on the front handle bar and a flashing red light on the back of the seat tube. I prefer using lights that have USB charging ports rather than traditional batteries…they work better in the cold.
Clothing: Face, toes, fingers and sit bones need to be warm and comfortable. I find that the areas furthest from my heart get cold the fastest. For my face, I will wear a balaclava with the nose exposed and some type of eye wear. I treat the eye wear with a thin coat of shampoo on the inner side of the lense as this prevents fogging up. For my hands, I prefer to wear “lobster claw” style mittens (two back fingers together, two front fingers together and thumb by itself). Isolating fingers in gloves makes fingers much more susceptible to frostbite.The lobster claw style however, gives you great comfort, and keeps fingers warm without impacting ability to shift. For my feet, I will wear toe warmers and on some occasions have taken a knitted wool sock and pulled it over my entire shoe. This is much more economical than a full neoprene bootie. Finally, for my sit bones I will wear a seamless lycra base coat, followed by cycling shorts and then a pair of winter-weight running tights.
While being outside is ideal, there will certainly be days when conditions are not suitable for riding. In order to stay on track with you winter training plan, try these indoor trainer workouts on days when the weather outside is frightening.
About The Contributor
This article was written by Peter Weaver. Peter is a USA Cycling Level 3 Certified Coach, National Academy of Sports Medicine Youth Exercise Specialist and holder of a UCI International Elite Competitors License. He has won numerous medals at the Maine Senior Games in cycling and is a 2019 National Senior Games Qualifier. Peter also has competed in many triathlons and is a 3x ITU World Duathlon Championship Age Group participant. Peter is a full-time high school teacher at Mount Desert Island High School and a seasonal employee at Acadia Bike Rentals, both located in Bar Harbor, Maine.