Winter is almost officially here, as in T-minus 1.5 days. This means that in 2.5 days the days will technically be getting longer, but the coldness is only just beginning. Does this mean M and I hang up our bike helmets for the season? Of course not! Winter in Albuquerque is nothing like Chicago, New York or Portland, but we still get some rather cold days and even colder nights. We live in the warm Southwestern desert, but pipes still freeze with overnight lows reaching 10 degrees. Just 2 weekends ago it was a whopping 23 when we went grocery shopping at noon.
The trick to winter riding in any city is layers and options. In Albuquerque, one week the highs might be 23 and the next 43. No matter the fluctuation in temperature from week to week, you should always dress lighter than you think you need, because once you get going your body will start to warm up and you will quickly realize how overdressed your are for the ride ahead.
Hands: On colder days all you really need is a good pair of lined gloves with a leather outer shell to block the wind, but if you want to get a pair of lobster gloves. For days when it is closer to 43 I like to using a pair of the cheap $3 cotton gloves stretch. I put those on and then add my fingerless cycling gloves over them and I am good to go for milder days. M and I opted for the lobster gloves for the freezing cold days and nights. We took them when we rode up to the Shop and Stroll in Nob Hill (ABQ Nob Hill not San Fran) It was a brisk and breezy 25 out and our hands stayed nice and warm. They were actually toasty at the end of the ride.
Head: A good knit hat under the helmet and a scarf is all you really need on even the coldest days. Now if you are like me you hate wearing scarfs. I can’t stand wrapping them around my neck. M has no problem wearing scarves, so she has a good collection of theses for all sorts of temperature ranges. What’s a guy or gall to do that hates scarves? Well you could just wear a bandanna around you face or get yourself a neck gaiter. Turtle Fur makes a turtle neck gaiter that just slips over your head and is big enough to pull up over you face. This for some reason I am okay with, scarves not a chance (I think it’s the wrapping around the neck thing).
Feet: Just wear some good thick wool socks and a solid pair of boots. You don’t need shoe covers unless you are wearing cycling shoes, then by all means get a pair of the shoe covers.
For the rest of your body: This is where layers really come in handy. On the coldest days a T-shirt, Sweater (or hoodie) and a thin wind breaker is all you really need. If you don’t have a wind breaker then wear a long sleeve shirt over the T-shirt and opt of a thicker jacket. preferably one made of wool. As far as pants go Jeans work just fine. I have a pair of wind breaker cycling pants that I got years ago (I mean over a decade years ago) and I wear them over my pants on days that are particularly brisk.
This sums up how M and I plan to keep warm to keep riding this winter. If you want some info on more fancy technical gear for harsher climates, check out this article from the Atlantic.