When mountain biking in winter, the most important is to stay warm and dry during the ride. Choosing a proper clothing is the most important decision you have to make before hitting the trail. It is not simply wise to just put on thick and warm garments to protect yourself from freezing cold.
Your body will start generating heat just after few minutes of riding due to thermogenesis, a body process for heat production in human body. Then it will be difficult for you to keep up with the same clothing.
Layering is the technique that may help you in protecting your body in any weather condition may it be rain, snow or sleet.
You’re looking to cover your body in layers that are best suited to your riding conditions. This technique will allow you to remove protecting gears and articles of clothing when you work up a sweat, and put them back on during a chilly descent.
Upper Body Protection
In winter, the best way to protect your body from cold is to layering up your apparel with essential items instead of standard jackets and shorts.
Depending on the weather, the temperature and the fact that you move uphill, flat or downhill, you have to wisely use the options available with you.
This middle layer is a personal preference depending on the requirements. it can be made of polyester, fleece, wool, and other synthetic blends; is meant to keep you warm and also works to keep moisture away from your skin. But it shouldn’t fit as snugly as your base layer does.
Your outermost layer of clothing should be windproof and waterproof. A technical jacket is probably the most important item for winter riding. A proper winter can’t be survived without a suitably robust weather-resistant jacket.
Lower Body Protection
When hitting the trail in winter, it is very important to protect your knees as it is one of the most exposed part of your body. You should cover your knees to keep them warm any time the temperature drops below 60 – 70 degrees to protect the cartilage in your knees. The continuous exposure of the knees to the cold wind can reportedly cause serious cartilage damage over time since there is almost no flesh on your knees and essentially no insulation.
For a biker, the knees are one of the most important body part to function well, so if there is any chance of developing arthritis or other knee issues, it would be very challenging and difficult, especially for mountain biking.
The choice for wearing knee warmers or knee pads are up to your preference and comfort. Some bikers prefer wearing knee warmers over the leggings for warmth and comfort while some feel wearing knee pads are as essential as helmet for extra protection from inevitable crashes and falls. You may acquire the necessary protection up to your choice and preferences.
Your legs are the most important part of the body who get the most hit while hitting the trail and need to be continuously performed most of the actions compare to any other part of the body. Keeping your legs insulated is essential for your clothing strategy that need to be balanced between comfort and maneuverability.
The type of clothing and fabric to choose is all depending on the weather conditions you are riding based on your preferences. However, there are few options which are suitable for most of the cases between moderate to extreme weather biking.
In case you really suffer in the cold weather, then thermal line bib tights are a good choice for you. They fit well under your regular riding shorts to keep you warm and moderately dry while offering great maneuverability. They are available in variety of fabrics of your choice and preferences. Some important features including
- The high compression to provide excellent muscle support by enhancing blood flow, and reduce fatigue.
- Effective water diffusion and wicking properties.
- Padding to protect your sensitive areas, and prevent it from injury during riding.
- Lightweight padding to support your ride with longer distance and duration.
The other option is to go for water proof riding trousers. Look for a kind of breathable, flexible and waterproof trousers which in the bottom tail into your ankle and not flapping into your chain.
Many bikers prefer using a set of waterproof shorts over a padded liner means a drier bum and more comfortable ride. Some models just use a waterproof patch to help fend of wheel spray, leaving the rest of the short more breathable and comfortable.
In a cold winter, your feet and the hands are the most affected to the cold. To keep them safe and dry, you should take special care to cover your feet and hands. Wearing your gloves and winter socks are the life savers during the winter riding.
Feet Protection (Footwear)
For any rider the biggest priority for the protection are the chronically cold toes. The most important thing is to choose the correct socks that not only keep your feet dry, but also keep your toes alive through compression and blood flow. Look for a cycling socks use a blend of fabrics to achieve the desired combination of warmth, moisture wicking, and comfort.
The feet and toes do not get the opportunity to wiggle around much while you are pedaling, so they are especially vulnerable to low circulation, and become uncomfortably numb. The key to warm feet is to get some extra insulation into your footwear.
Investing in a specialist pair of winter boots is a smart idea if you’re serious about winter riding. They are expensive but they have special features to keep your feet warm and dry. Your investment on a windproof and waterproof winter shoes will also increase the life of your summer shoes as they will not be used and damaged in the harsh weather conditions.
The normal biking shoes are designed to keep your feet cool; that works great in summer. They are typically designed for hot and dry conditions, with lots of ventilation and lightweight upper; expecting the same to provide your feet warmth and dry in winter is impossible.
Many bikers prefers using overshoes on top of normal shoes in winter to protect from the cold, rain, and wind. When choosing the right shoe covers, you’ll have to consider how windproof, waterproof, and naturally how warm they are.
Head Protection (Helmet)
Your head is vulnerable to being cold and losing significant quantities of body heat. With physical exercise alone, it is also almost difficult to warm up again. For most winter days, wearing a wool stocking cap worn under your helmet is sufficient. You have to make it sure that the cap you wear is thin enough to fit under your helmet. A cap with a visor helps to keep your forehead warm and water away from your glasses in rainy weather.
Please make sure to get a new helmet after any fall or crash you hit your head, even apparently you don’t see any damage or mark on the helmet. Microfractures will weaken the material and your helmet won’t be able to deal with the next impact. In case, you want a full face protection, you may go for full-faced helmets that may protect your entire face.
Eyes Protection (Eyewear)
For the mountain bikers wearing cycling glasses are the essential for riding throughout the year. In winter, wearing cycling glasses are more important than in summer. In coder months, the roads develop their normal abrasive coating with a blend of grit and tiny broken stones, thorns and splinters. If your tires are not punctured by these nasties, they can easily be flicked into your face, particularly on a group ride.
In winter, wearing a riding glasses help you to prevent your eyes from watering up in the cold , and to help ward off flying splatter. A set of clear goggles with wide clear lenses can work very well in winter conditions while offering you a good compromise between protecting your eyes, and keeping your vision clear. Always keep a lens cloth with you to keep them clean.
Hands Protection (Gloves)
Another very important layer of protection for your skin is wearing the hand gloves. Some rider might skip wearing the gloves in summer but in winter it is much more required to keep your hands nice and cozy.
You may start with Normal gloves but if you feel they’re not warm enough then you may look winter specific cycling gloves. The best are the winter cycling gloves with grippy palms and fingers because when wet, the handlebars can get slippery. but you must make sure you can still safely operate the shift and brake levers.
When you need more insulation for a long, cold ride, it would be a good idea to wear a thermal liner gloves under your winter gloves. They’re designed to give you an added level of warmth and comfort as you needed.
Never Give Up! Riding in the winter not only give you more fun but also increase your fitness to the next level.