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10 Worst Mistakes to Make Winter Riding

  • By Eszter Horanyi
  • Published Jan. 6, 2012
  • Updated Oct. 11, 2012 at 4:44 PM EDT
Pogies are the easiest way to keep hands warm when the temperature drops. Photo: Eszter Horanyi

Clothing Blunders

3. Allowing insulating layers to get wet

As mentioned in an earlier article concerning dressing for winter conditions, one of the crucial pieces of the warmth puzzle is keeping insulating layers dry. In most cases, this means keeping them shielded from sweat. This can be done by using a vapor barrier between the skin and insulating layers or by regulating sweat rate by controlling exertion levels and wearing materials that wick effectively. Whatever the choice, be sure that your main insulating layer (down, fleece, wool) is kept away from moisture.

4. Wearing tight fitting shoes or gloves

I have memories from my early years skiing, when in an attempt to keep my feet warm, my parents would triple sock our feet and then shove our oversized feet into ski boots. Within a lift-ride, my feet would be numb. Insulation functions by keeping heat in, not by creating heat. In the case of feet and hands, the heat that is carried to the extremities through blood flow. If circulation is diminished due to tight fitting clothing, there is less heat being given off and less heat to trap, thus numb hands and feet. The best solution to this is to size up with winter clothing. A pair of winter shoes one to two sizes too big will allow for an extra pair of socks as well as allowing for plenty of wiggle room for the toes to further increase circulation. Tight gloves, regardless of how warm, will lead to numb fingers so try lobster gloves, or if riding on terrain that doesn’t need delicate braking or shifting maneuvers, try mittens.

5. Not putting extra layers on at top of climb

As bike riders, most of us don’t like to stop often to adjust clothing layers. At the top of most climbs, it’s easy to feel warm and comfortable from the body heat produced by grunting up a long hill and not want to stop for the few seconds that it would take to put a jacket on. But generally, at the top of every hill is a downhill and the wind-chill on a sweaty body combined with the sudden decrease in power output, and thus heat output, can wreak havoc on the body. Once the core temperature has dropped, it’s difficult to bring it back up, so make a habit of adding a layer before any extended descent. You’re heat regulation will thank you for it.

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