We received a Guest Article from our friend Stuart from the UK about riding in cold weather. Read below and you’ll see he’s got some great tips!
Mountain biking in winter typically isn’t a very pleasant experience with the limited daylight hours and cold weather and for many riders the biting temperatures are too much, preferring to hang up the bike and bide their time until conditions improve.
However, if you’re living in an area with such a variable climate throughout the year as the UK, that could mean not riding indefinitely until an all too brief summer, which would be a shame as winter rides can still be very rewarding provided you’re fully prepared.
We’ve put together a list of essential items for mountain biking in winter, much of which can be retained for the months of spring which can still be wet and on the chilly side, depending on where you live.
Picking the perfect mountain bike jacket isn’t always easy but it will be an essential piece of kit for colder climes. The perfect jacket is one that will keep you very warm whilst also allowing your body to breathe enough to maintain comfort whilst riding.
Working as either as a base layer under a jacket or on their own, arm warmers are great pieces of winter kit, providing warmth and protection against the wind as well as being easy to remove and pack down should you get too warm.
As with arm warmers, leg warmers are excellent for keeping your limbs warm when temperatures drop. With a range of brands on offer and a variety of different fibres and fabrics available, leg warmers also benefit from being easily removable and not taking up valuable bicycle storage space.
Many MTB riders will wear gloves all year round but it is particularly crucial in winter. We would suggest wearing full-finger gloves in the winter and then switch to finger-less gloves as the warmer weather approaches.
Formed by a diverse group of cyclists, Cycle Stuff Direct are providers of premium quality cycling clothing, parts and accessories to make riding your bike more enjoyable!
This past year Joe “J Sizzle” Solancho hooked up our team with a new team sponsor “Spenco“. If you haven’t heard of this company yet you MUST check them out. The company offered to send us some sweet gloves to ride with. I must confess that I initially was not impressed with the limited selection of colors to choose from. What can I say? I am a girl and I like pink – deal with it. I didn’t let my color preference deter me from giving these gloves a test run though.
Designed with cold weather riders in mind, these gloves are declared perfect for temps as low as the 30s.
Anatomically pre-curved for maximum comfort
Patented channel over the median nerve reduces hand fatigue and numbness.
Fleece lined for warmth and comfort even when wet.
Silicone dots on palm ensure great grip.
Neoprene cuff and wind gusset designed to keep cold air out.
The riding conditions this past month have been a little chillier than this california native prefers to ride in. Great opportunity to whip out my Spenco “COLD SNAP” gloves. Now you must understand Lady P does not like the cold – hence the reason I reside in SO CAL. I am a cold blooded gal – seriously. My hands and feet are always freezing. RL screams at night when I place my feet between his legs because my feet are freezing to touch. Perhaps this is a little much information for you but I say this only so that you can get a FULL understanding of how extremely sensitive I am to ANY cold conditions. The cold makes me shiver, my teeth chatter and my bones ache. Granted, it is not thirty below zero, but 40 degrees in SO CAL is about all the cold I can handle!
Me wearing Spenco Cold Snap Gloves.
Anyways, now that you have an idea on my tolerance for cold lets continue. The past few weeks the temperature has deterred me from getting in a few good mountain bike rides. It’s sad, I know. This past Saturday though I was determined to make it out to Aliso Woods because rain is in the forecast for the next two weeks! When we arrived out in Aliso Woods at 8am I stepped out of the car and immediately thought that perhaps I should have just stayed in bed. It was cold and overcast and big rain drops were beginning to fall. Even the hottest blooded man I know (RL) was complaining! I threw on my third layer of clothing (no kidding) and tried to tape up the ventilation holes on my shoes but the tape wouldn’t stick because of all the dirt on my shoes. This was in addition to my ear warmers and leg warmers. It was cold. You get the idea.
RL reminded me I had my Spenco gloves and I knew immediately my hands were going to be a’ok. I have got to tell you that these gloves are a sure bet for keeping your fingers protected from the cold. These gloves are thick but not so thick that you can’t grip your brakes or drop a gear without ease. The outside fabric is tough, but the inside is FLEECE – wonderful fleece! That fleece kept my fingers toasty even as the temperature dropped another 10 degrees riding through the lower canyon.
RL wearing Spenco Cold Snap Gloves (he loves them!)
These gloves have become an absolute necessity for my winter mountain bike rides. My fingers don’t feel numb as they typically would. Actually last year I had to line my hands with a latex glove that would leave my hands looking like a wrinkled raisin by the end of the ride because of all the moisture. Since I have received these Cold SNAP gloves though I haven’t had to rely on latex to keep my hands warm. It’s still cold, but it’s much more manageable with these gloves. There’s other cool features – like silicone dots for gripping, and some sort of patent channel to reduced fatigue in the hands or something like that. That’s all great and all but what matter’s to me most is my hands are not freezing and I can still maneuver my breaks and levers. This makes Lady P very happy. Now if they can just come out with some socks for my toes so that they don’t feel like they are going to fall off. 😉
I am pleasantly surprised that I have enjoyed using these gloves as much as I have. Sure, they aren’t as feminine looking as I would like them to be..BUT they do what they are supposed to do – they keep these manicured fingers protected from the chill. And as long as that makes my bike ride that much more enjoyable then this glove gets two thumbs up from Lady P. 😉
What I wore last January on a demo day ride.
I was thinking I would write about mountain biking in cold weather… but then I realized I ride in Southern California.
I was thinking I would write about having to hang up my bike for the winter… but then I realized I ride in Southern California.
I was thinking I would write about having to switch to snow tires… but then I realized I ride in Southern California.
I was thinking I would write about having to do crosstraining due to snow… but then I realized I ride in Southern California.
Winter mountain biking in Southern California… maybe RL is wearing too much.
So I decided I’d write to all those living in the cold weather parts of the states… or world. This is an open invitation to you. Join us in Southern California to realize an amazing winter riding experience: riding in winter in shorts. Yes, shorts.
You are invited to join the MtnBikeRiders.com crew in what we here call “winter mountain biking”. Winter mountain biking, in Southern California, means we start off with a long sleeve jersey or arm warmers and part way through the ride we switch to short sleeve jerseys. There is no need to wear lobster gloves or booties that go over your shoes to keep your tootsies warm. And there is definitely no need to wear long pants.
Lobster gloves? Not for mountain biking during the Southern California winters.
All you’ve got to do is get to Southern California and email us at email@example.com. We’ll reply with our ride location & time and you get to do something amazing, that’s right, meet us internet celebrities. j/k. Mountain bike in the winter in shorts.
Priscilla in her February riding gear at Turnbull Canyon
If you’re looking outside your window and all you see is fluffy white stuff… if you’re dreading having to bundle up for the umpteenth time this winter season… if you could lick your bike and your tongue would get stuck to the metal… it’s time to head out to So. Cal and get in some riding with the MtnBikeRiders.com crew. Oh, and don’t bother bringing the long riding pants. Shorts will do.