Once you get the cycling bug, you won’t want to have your riding limited by the change in seasons. And while the cold of late fall can be the most intimidating, today’s modern fabrics do a great job of keeping you warm and dry without bulk and with the freedom of movement of movement you need for cycling. Here is a quick head-to-toe summary of the gear that can keep you riding in comfort.
Head: Start with a cycling specific cap or balclava, designed to fit under your helmet. It should have a thin layer fleece with a wind-proof fabric that allows your helmet to fit properly. Avoid heavy caps that require you to loosen your chin strap. You can also add a helmet cover of wind proof fabric for additional warmth.
Core: Your core will need a base layer to move perspiration away from your body. On top of that, a long sleeve riding jersey or a light fleece layer for insulation. Cover it all with a wind proof shell, or insulated, wind proof jacket. Look for long sleeves to protect your wrists and a tail for protecting the lower back. Some designs will make extra effort to cover the kidneys, where blood flow near the skin can cause heat loss.
Hands: Winter riding gloves need to provide dexterity for shifting and braking, padding agains vibration, a good grip and breathability. Some of the more popular designs will use a partial mitten to meet these needs. Also look for a long, snug cuff.
Legs: You can find fall and winter tights with a cycling pad (or chamois), or are worn over cycling shorts. There are pros and cons to each type; some riders like the simplicity of padded tights, while the care and durability of combination out fits is a little simpler. Look for wind proof panels on the front, and plenty of room for your knees through panels or bellows cuts.
Feet: You won’t be able to wear heavy socks in a properly fit cycling shoes so road riders will use windproof and/or insulated shoe covers. You can also find insulated winter cycling shoes, for both road, cyclocross and off-road riding. Another option is to buy an oversized pair of non-ventilated off-road shoes, to wear with a heavier socks in cold weather.
And don’t feel you have to rush to get all the gear at once. Add an item or two each season as your riding interest grows. Good quality gear will give you years of use. And the relatively mild winters of Indianapolis will offer many opportunities to ride before you have a complete winter cycling wardrobe.