Don’t look now, but the forecast for eastern Mass for Saturday is supposed to be not too bad, high around 40 in the afternoon. “Brrr!” is the first reaction from most of you, but don’t give up yet. With just two more layers you can easily ride at this temperature and stay fairly warm. For $100-200 you can easily add an extra month or two to your riding season.
The goal for winter and spring riding is LSD – Long Slow Distance. Save the town line sprints for summer; you want to burn off some of those Christmas cookies and keep your legs in shape.
I rode both days last weekend and hardly felt chilled. Start from the top. Get a thin cap made for cycling that fits under your helmet. Its main goal is to keep the wind from cooling down the hottest part of your body, especially for those of us whose hair has become more theoretical. As long as it is above freezing, I don’t bother with a balaclava. Or baklava. Carry a headband in case the cap is too warm.
For your chest, try something warm such as a base layer or synthetic sweat shirt like Under Armor. (When it is in the 50s, I just wear a v-neck cotton shirt. Cheap and effective.) On top wear a good cycling jacket, perhaps with some lining.
For gloves, head over to EMS. They sell a great glove liner that slips under your regular cycling glove and keeps your fingers extra toasty. Also get some Wind Blocker outer gloves that you can take on or off as the temps vary. These layers don’t add bulk and are very flexible. I once tried lobster gloves and after 5 miles my hands were sweating like Nixon under the lights.
I have a heavier pair of tights that I wear to keep my legs comfortable. The PMC leg warmers are in the back of my closet and may never come out. Not my speed. Poly or wool hiking socks in my shoes and either booties or just toe covers and I’m all set.
Lastly, chose your route well. I like to start with a modest climb up Rt. 62 in Stow to get the fires stoked. Avoid exposed areas where the wind can hammer you, like that stretch of 117 I rode Sunday that was a hair too chilly. Dunkin Donuts is always a great destination as you can fill your insulated water bottle with some hot cocoa. Just watch that first sip – it might burn your tongue.
Sounds chilly? Beats the alternative – spin classes or pedaling in your basement!
(Thanks to the Lexington PMC team for the title inspiration.)