How To Dress for Cycling in Winter? It depends!

How to dress in winter? Good question, and the answer is not so trivial. Let’s start with the simplest concept: winter clothing should keep us warm, at an ideal body temperature of about 37°.

However, be careful not to make a serious mistake for fear of the cold: overdressing.

1. How to dress in winter

Overdressing is as dangerous as underdressing: wearing a jacket that is too heavy or too many clothes than you really need to is not good because you risk sweating from the start, only to freeze when you slow down or stop pedalling.

It is true that cold tolerance is not the same for everyone, so the different choices will be subjective, but there are rules worth respecting. 

For example: change the type of clothing depending on the route and the intensity of the planned training.

2. Does it really have to do with the route?

Let’s make a premise: we are talking about temperatures from 7 degrees and below. That is, cold.
And in these cases, one of the aspects to be evaluated is the route.

If we plan a flat course at a regular pace, the speed will never be particularly low and, above all, there will be no variations in pace, so our body will not be subjected to overheating and heavy sweating. Opt for winter underwear and a thick jacket, as thermoproduction will be constant throughout the workout.

If, on the other hand, we plan a ride with many uphill and downhill sections, things change.
On the climbs, even if they are approached at a gentle pace, our physique will be strained and, thanks to the decrease in speed, there will be an increase in thermoproduction to maintain a constant body temperature.
In this case it is essential to dress in layers, to be able to lighten up on the climb (and therefore sweat less), and then cover up on the descent. Wearing only a warm jacket would make this situation more difficult: you would have to unzip the zipper on the way up and risk getting too cold. On the other hand, without opening the jacket, we would have a bad thermodispersion and we would start sweating a lot, risking to get very cold on the descent.

3. What about the intensity of the exercise done?

The more you exert yourself, the more you will sweat to dissipate the heat. Wearing clothes that are too warm would accumulate steam on the skin, which would stagnate and make us feel colder.

In other words, if you’re planning a high-intensity workout, it’s best to dress in layers using clothing of an intermediate weight. The risk is that you may feel a little cold during the warm-up, but then you will be fine. 

This is the case in cyclocross competitions: the athletes are very lightly clad but the effort is high.

4. Conclusion

Let’s make a summary that can help us.

  1. A winter base layer and long pants (or longer winter shorts) are the starting point for any occasion and outing.
  2. A warm jacket is perfect for regular training or for long distances on flat or slightly undulating trails.
  3. For strenuous training sessions or long climbs, it is better to replace the jacket with a long-sleeved jersey combined with a vest or another layer.
  4. Hands and feet must always be protected: gloves and overshoes are essential. If you end up getting hot, you can put them in your pocket. 

Stefano Francescutti

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How To Dress for Cycling in Winter? It depends!
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How To Dress for Cycling in Winter? It depends! How to dress in winter? Good question, and the answer is not so trivial. Let's start with the simplest concept: winter clothing should keep us warm, at an ideal body temperature of about 3 …
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How To Dress for Cycling in Winter? It depends!

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