Sunday, 5 October 2014

Dress for Autumn Success

I usually try to plan my rides around the weather.  When I checked the forecast for the next few days, I found that we were in for a fair amount of rain.  The only solid open window when it wasn't raining was this morning.  Since I don't have much outdoor season left for the road bike, I got packed up to go.

The forecast called for 10C (with "feels like" 7C).  I was looking forward to the opportunity to try out some of my cold weather gear.  So I got out my cycling liner, tights and long sleeve jersey.

I had just purchased some Pearl Izumi Select Thermal Tights.  Go ahead and laugh.  No really, go ahead.  I've been laughing at myself too; I don't like tights and these are the first set of tights I've owned in my entire life.  Here are links to Pearl Izumi men's tights and women's tights on and here are links to men's tights and women's tights on

The cycling liner I am using is the MEC Ace Cycling Liner Shorts.  They were the very first item of real cycling clothes I purchased.  It was back when I wanted the benefits of a chamois without having to resort to dressing in spandex.  They are very thin so it is great for wearing under other clothes.  Even tight form fitting clothes like tights.  Here is a link to them at MEC.  If you are looking for the ladies' version, click here.

For a jersey I went with the MEC Ardent jersey.  It wasn't the style or the reviews that won me out on this; to be quite honest it was the price.  It was on sale for $29CAD when I purchased it.  Here is a link to it at MEC.

First thing I noticed as I started biking was WOW IT IS COLD!  I knew cycling was going to make me warmer so I resisted the urge to return for more layers.  This turned out to be the correct maneuver as my icy cold ears got hot very fast.   Also will remember to stick to luke warm water as icy cold water on an icy cold day feels like an icy cold dagger to the stomach when you drink it.

I couldn't believe how well the tights worked out.  When I started, my legs weren't cold at all.  They stayed that way for the entire ride.  Even when I made a brief stop and started getting cold, my bottom half was warm the entire time.  As soon as I'm not broke, I am literally running out to buy another pair.  And in conjunction with the cycling liner, my derriere felt well padded and comfortable.

I was equally surprised by the jersey.  I wasn't expecting spectacular results for a $29 jersey but they really impressed me.  I was so warm in the jersey I had to unzip it a bit.  I'm tempted to pick up another one as they would also make excellent base layers.

The ride itself was both excellent and gruelling.  There was very little traffic but there was a pretty strong wind pushing east.  Part of it is covered by Strava segments in both directions.  So I got an awesome performance in the one segment.  The other segment went so slowly you could swear I just walked the bike down the road.  This wind was impervious to both my physical efforts and my curse words.

I think if I would have done anything differently, I would have went with some shoe covers as my toes were chilly.  I'm sure we'll be getting plenty of cold weather for me to experiment in.


  1. I've been struggling with this, this morning I put on some winter boots (replace my peddles with steel spiky for added grip) stretchy gloves over top of my biking gloves, winter jacket (with the polar fleece removed for now) and ear covers. I need to buy another skull cap to go under my helmet (as I lost a lot of heat with-out one). For pants, I'm just using jogging pants.. It's the cross wind that took away my breath a few times, nothing like gasping for a deep amount of o2 and instead getting nothing.

    1. Have you tried a helmet cover? They work well in conjunction with skull caps. You can buy a decent cover at many places. Or you can go super-budget and try it with shower caps. At least that way you can try it out without investing lots of cash.

      Layer clothes. Base layer (against your skin) for wicking moisture away, middle layer for insulation, outer shell layer for wind/water protection.

      Since you commute a lot, if I were you I'd drop some coin on coat + pants outer shell that was waterproof, windproof and breathable. Expensive but worth every penny. And they're pretty good to wear when not cycling!

  2. I've ridden year round in the Rocky Mountain region, in relative comfort, for the past few decades. In my experience, dressing like a rancher works well for cold, windy conditions, though it's probably drier here than in Ontario. Over a wicking base and insulating mid layers, I wear a canvas/insulated Carhartt coat, insulated leather work gloves, and a thin, tight fitting windproof fleece cap under the helmet. Some friends use ski/snowboard helmets in the winter, which are insulated and not as vented as bike helmets. Sorel-type snow boots work well with platform pedals. I also like army surplus/thrift store wool pants, with polypropylene long underwear.

    The tough parts for me at the coldest temperatures are my cheeks and nose. There are many snowmobile mask possibilities, but none are really meant for the heavy breathing of physical activity. Growing a beard helps.

    In all, I know I don't look sleek, but the above combo has worked for me down to about -25 C. Ranch/construction/hunting clothes are often well suited to windy, cold weather riding, and are usually much cheaper and more durable than bike-specific stuff.

    1. Thanks for the tip re: ranch/construction/hunting clothes. I found similar things when looking for pogies. Cycling pogies = extremely expensive, ATV pogies = dirt cheap. Almost the same thing though.