Thirsty (for knowledge) Thursday: Winter Riding Essentials

>> Thursday, December 27, 2018

I used to be very much a "fair weather rider," really only going out when it was above 45 degrees. I've gotten better (heading out now around freezing), but I'm still not great at getting out in the winter. In terms of gear, I found this article written by a cyclist who is also a sports dietitian specialising in performance nutrition for cyclists and triathletes. It has some good tips for the 7 things she suggests for winter riding:

Arm warmers

Can’t decide if you’re hot or cold? Arm and leg warmers can be your best friend. Handy when paired with a gilet, they help you use a summer jersey in those in between months when it’s too cool for bare arms but too warm for long-sleeve thermals. They’re easy to roll down on the go when you’re climbing up a hill and then roll back up again as your temperature drops during a descent.

Leg warmers

I remember a few years ago when I began cycling wondering why my new riding buddies were wearing shorts over long trousers – kind of like how superman wears his underpants on the outside. I then learnt that they were actually leg warmers tucked under their shorts! Leg warmers can be a useful way to extend your summer kit shorts into the winter months. I only bought my first pair of proper thermal winter cycling leggings last year, making do with this DIY trick for a number of years!

Admittedly it is a bit more complicated to remove leg-warmers mid-ride without stopping. I have seen it done though (I don’t have those skills just yet).


Another piece of kit I wish I’d invested in earlier! Gilets are super handy for the hot-one-minute-cold-the-next people like me. Basically a light weight weight, sleeve-less jacket or sorts, they usually act as a wind blocker, keeping your core nice and toasty. My tip is to look for one that has a pocket in the back allowing you to reach into the pockets of your jersey for food mid-ride without having to pull it up.

Base layer

It’s only in the last year that I’ve started regularly wearing a base layer in the colder months. Another handy trick to extend your summer kit into the autumn, winter months they can wick sweat away from your body to keep you dry and warm, plus add an extra layer of warmth when you’re not ready to wear (or buy) thicker thermal jerseys.

Short sleeve or long sleeve? I now have both, using the short sleeve one with arm warmers during warmer temps and the long-sleeve one under long-sleeve jerseys once temperatures plummet more.


Essential when riding the mucky roads here in England, wearing overshoes will not only keep your feet warm and dry(ish), but it protects your shoes from any discolouration or muck being flicked up.

Waterproof jacket

Some people are fair-weather riders, which is totally okay. I’m one of those people that goes out in all sorts of weather leaving friends and family shaking their head and asking ‘didn’t you look at the weather before you left???!!’

A good quality waterproof jacket is an essential piece of kit for all riders. Even if you don’t plan to ride in the rain, at some point you are probably going to get caught out. And if you race (or plan to race) I would encourage you to start riding in the rain occasionally – JUST in case an event you’re ever becomes a wash out. There is nothing worse than being cold and wet on a ride. And while a jacket might not keep ALL the rain out, it’ll do a good job of protecting you from getting ill or unwell when exposed to the elements for too long.


As someone who tends to wear a scarf year round, I think buffs are AMAZING. Basically a stretchy scarf sewn together in a circle, pull it over your neck and your neck will stay nice and toasty. They also are great to pull up over your mouth and nose to keep them warm if the wind is blowing a gale. Stick them on your head to keep your head warm instead of a cap and your ears will thank you on a bitter cold winter ride.

Happy Training

The author keeping her neck warm with a buff on a muddy ride.

For more "Thirsty Thursday" posts that highlight workouts, body science, and all kinds of interesting information, CLICK HERE. As always, back with some "Friday Funnies" tomorrow.


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