Fall and winter cycling can be a beautiful and rewarding experience, but it’s important to dress appropriately to stay comfortable and safe. Here are a few key tips for choosing the right cycling clothes for the cooler weather:
Jackets: Avoid bundling up in a heavy jacket, as you’ll quickly overheat. Instead, opt for a lightweight, wind-resistant shell with a full-zip front for venting and a drop tail for coverage in the back.
Jerseys and tops: Dress in multiple layers to trap insulating air. Start with a thin polyester base layer to wick moisture away from your skin. On colder days, add a midlayer such as a synthetic long-sleeve shirt or bike jersey. A vest is another good option for keeping your core warm.
Pants and tights: Keep your knees covered when the temperature drops below 50°F. Consider wearing knickers or capris in the early fall, and then switch to full-length tights when it gets colder. Look for tights that are breathable and have a wind-resistant front. If the tights you select don’t have padded bottoms, wear them over your bike shorts.
Headwear: Wear a thin synthetic skullcap or headband under your helmet to prevent your scalp from getting cold. If it’s especially cold, choose a skullcap with earflaps or a balaclava.
Socks: Merino wool cycling socks will add needed warmth. You can also wear thin liner socks against the skin, but be careful not to constrict your blood flow by wearing too many socks.
Shoe covers: Cycling covers (or booties) protect your shoes from the cold and wind. They’re often made of neoprene, but remember that neoprene doesn’t breathe well, so your feet may get clammy. Other options include toe covers, chemical heat pads, and even electrically heated shoe insoles. If you’re serious about winter cycling, you may want to buy a pair of extra bike shoes that are a size larger to accommodate thicker socks.
Arm and leg warmers: Arm and leg warmers are perfect for semi-cold conditions. They provide good insulation and can be rolled up or removed entirely if the weather warms.
Gloves: Leave the fingerless gloves at home and go for full-fingered gloves in the fall and winter. In frigid conditions, consider bike mittens or even bike pogies that fit over the handlebars.
Lighting and reflection: With the shorter days of fall and winter, it’s important to be visible to other road users. Place a white light on the front of your bike and a red light (usually a flasher) in the rear. You should also wear a reflector vest and/or reflective tape, stickers, or plastic pieces on your bike.
Cycling in the fall and winter has many benefits, including:
- Improved fitness: Cycling is a great way to get exercise, and it’s even more effective in the cold weather. Your body has to work harder to stay warm, which means you burn more calories.
- Boosted mood: Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. This is especially important in the fall and winter, when many people experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
- Reduced stress: Cycling is a great way to de-stress and relax. It’s also a great way to get some fresh air and sunshine, which can help improve your mood and overall well-being.
- Strengthened immune system: Regular exercise can help strengthen your immune system and make you less susceptible to illness. This is especially important in the fall and winter, when the cold and flu viruses are more active.
- Saved money: Cycling is a free and environmentally friendly way to get around. It can also save you money on gas and parking.
- Beautiful scenery: The fall and winter can be a beautiful time to be outdoors. Cycling is a great way to enjoy the changing leaves and snow-covered landscapes.
Of course, there are also some challenges to cycling in the fall and winter. The weather can be unpredictable, and the roads can be slippery. It’s important to dress appropriately and to be extra cautious when riding in the cold weather.