Clothing for Cyclists: Below Freezing

Ted King, Alison Tetrick, and Andy Jacques-Maynes share their favorite clothing for all types of weather, from freezing to sizzling.

May 15, 2013
Outside Magazine

The pros race in the snow, and you can too.   

Most recreational riders are sane enough to ride indoors at these temperatures. That said, many road riders are masochistic beasts who simply have to train—and race—in miserable conditions.

Take King. The professional cyclist recently returned from Europe, which is just thawing out after one of the iciest springs in its history. King raced the Tour of Flanders on a day with record-breaking cold temperatures.

“Frigid-weather gear means as much Gore-Tex, windproof, and thermal clothing as you can afford,” King says. “Function over fashion here. You’ll likely look like a bloated oaf with all this gear, but it’s better than hypothermia and losing a few digits to frostbite.”

Start with the extremities, which tend to go cold first. Thick, rubbery shoe covers are a must, as are lobster gloves that pair your fingers together for added warmth. In the coldest of conditions, opt for a set of bar mitts over your gloves. These rubberized hand-shaped pouches attach to your handlebars, adding another layer of wind-stopping material without compromising your ability to shift.

Cold can do a number on your skin, so King recommends a balaclava facemask like Craft’s face protector for runners. Always wear glasses in cold conditions to keep your eyes from tearing up and to protect the delicate skin in that area.

Your extremities go cold first, but you’ll freeze solid without some core protection. King recommends raiding your ski drawer for a set of long undershirts. Wear a standard set of bibs and leg-warmers on your legs, and cover them with a thick tights for added warmth. Top it off with a fleece-lined shell and you’re good to hit the road. Just remember: If you get cold, pedal faster.

Filed To: Biking