Winter Cycling: How to Avoid Hypothermia on Two Wheels

Cycling is a fantastic form of exercise, no matter what level of fitness you are currently at. The trouble is most people think of it as a fair weather sport. They assume that with the cold, wet and windy conditions prevalent during the winter months, riding on a bike is going to be a deeply unpleasant experience. And they would probably be correct because without the right clothing, winter cycling really isn’t much fun!

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It possible to have a lot of fun on a bike through the winter and whether you enjoy road or mountain biking, as long as you have the right kit, you don’t have to suffer from hypothermia or frostbites. So what clothes are recommended for winter bike riding?

Layers, Layers, Layers

The thing with rapid exercises such as cycling is that you can get pretty hot and sweaty once you warm up, but if the wind picks up or you slow down, you soon start to feel cold again. The best way to maintain a comfortable temperature is to wear lots of thin layers so you can add and remove to suit. Long sleeve cycle jersey in winter is a must!

Base layers need to be made from a breathable material that wicks the sweat away from your skin. Clothing made from technical fabrics is a good choice in this regard. Middle layers can be made of cotton or similar, but if you have a bit more money to spend, merino wool garments are great for winter bike trips as they are warm and breathable.

A Winter Cycling Jacket

Whatever else you wear, a wind and waterproof jacket is a must-have for winter bike voyages. Look for jackets with vents beneath the arms and lots of pockets for storing keys, phones, etc. The more expensive jackets are made from breathable fabrics that are lightweight, yet weather proof.

Winter Leggings

Buy thicker winter cycling tights for cold weather riding. These will protect your legs from the chilly temperatures. Bib shorts are a good choice, too, as they will keep your lower back warm.
Warm Hands and Dry Feet

When the weather is cold, your extremities will feel it the most. Gloves are essential during the winter, so look for thick waterproof gloves to ensure your hands stay warm and dry, no matter what the weather does. You also need to protect your feet if it’s wet, so invest in some waterproof overshoes.

Protect Your Head

We lose a huge amount of heat from our head, which is great in the summer when you need to cool off, but not so great in the winter when it’s freezing. A thin hat worn under your regular bike helmet will help to protect your head from heat loss. It is also worth looking for a hat that covers your ears as they soon get cold when the wind is blowing sideways.

As with most things in life, you do get what you pay for when you buy cycling clothing. The higher the price tag, the better quality the garment will be. You don’t need to spend a fortune on top of the range cycling kit, but try and buy the best you can afford as it will be more comfortable and protect you better on cold, wet days.


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