Cold Riding Ninja

When I left this morning for my ride, it was 35 degrees. When I got back 22 miles later is was 43. That’s chilly. My 4 year old says I look like a ninja in my new balaclava — link provided so you don’t think I’m wearing a tasty Turkish pastry on my head. Ninja was actually the nicest thing I looked like, because when you take a brown guy like myself and put a full mask over your face in these turbulent times..well, lets just say people can get wacky ideas. But it’s getting cold, and my face and ears froze on too many rides last year. In fact, this year, I geared up plenty for the cold weather riding. So what do you need for a 35 degree morning ride? Read on to see how I’m kickin’ it on these crisp mornings.

Since I found myself chilly at the end of plenty of rides last year, I decided to “gear-up” this year and added a few weapons to my cold weather arsenal. Here’s the picture of my post-ride pile up today:

My normal ride would be short sleeve jersey, short sleeve layer, shorts, socks, shoes, fingerless gloves, sunglasses and helmet. This morning most of that was changed to the following:

Helmet, sunglasses, shoes and socks – pretty much the same as normal.
Balcalava – I almost couldn’t bring myself to buy this, but after wearing it today, I’m really glad I had it. I wasn’t sure how it would affect my hearing, since it covers my ears, but it didn’t really seem to make much difference there.
Showers Pass Jacket – this is actually my amazing rain jacket, but it worked great as a shell layer. If I got too warm, I knew it’d be easy enough to roll up and stick in the backpocket of the jersey, or tie on the waist.
Long sleeve jersey – just an inexpensive Performance jersey. I wore this the other day with a short sleeve layer as the sun was going down and needed a little more that day too. It was good as part of the layering.
Long sleeve layer – have to move from just short sleeves here to keep the arms from getting chilly. This was enough today, I didn’t need arm warmers with them.
Knee warmers – added a second layer extension from the bottom of my shorts down to the mid point of the shin
Black Bottom tights – non-chamoised tights (chamois in the shorts) to add an additional layer to the bottom half
Full fingered gloves – once it starts cooling off at all, I prefer to keep the hands toasty. They are not very water proof however, so they still get wet in the showers.

How did it do? Not too shabby. I started off just a tad chilly, which is good. If you go out all warm and toasty, you’ll be stripping down in no time. My upper half was plenty warm all through the ride, and I almost contemplated taking off my jacket about halfway through. However, after stopping at the Wheatland Ferry for a little 5 minute rest and stretch, I had cooled back off and was glad I kept it on.

The lower half was a little chilly, particularly in my knees, which is NOT where I want to have cold cutting through. Even with the knee warmers, I was surprised how I felt a chill through the 2nd layer tights. I mean, it *was* 35 degrees when I started, so I shouldn’t be surprised, but I may need another wind barrier.

I think for rides starting out even as chilly as 32 degrees I could do fine with the gear I had on today. I also have some shoe covers that I didn’t pull out, but would be helpful when it touched down that low. Also, knowing the temps were going to rise as I rode, and seeing the sun coming up as I took off, reminded me that I wouldn’t be in the cold-cold all ride long, but would reach the balmy mid-40’s by the time I got home

I’ll give some more detailed looks at some of the cold weather gear in future posts, but for now we’ve hit 60 degrees and it’s time for the shorts to come back out! And remember: You can always peel off those layers if you have them, but you can’t put them on if you don’t!


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