Newsflash – winter is here!
Ok, for many cyclists in Australia, bar the lucky few in the northern regions, this is old news.
Battling crisp, cold mornings and the occasional bit of rain on your commute to work has probably been part of your daily routine for the past few weeks already. Mother nature doesn’t always abide by rigid schedules.
A part of my mission with this column is to impart my accumulated knowledge and experience to new and inexperienced cyclists, in particular commuting cyclists, so that they continue to cycle on a daily basis and don’t become disheartened by less than perfect weather.
The problem is, many new and inexperienced cyclists feel overwhelmed by the sheer range and expense of cycle-wear and accessories on the market.
It’s important to keep it simple and effective. And remember to always dress in layers and have removable items as you will most likely become much warmer after ten minutes of vigorous riding than you were before you started.
So, here’s my top three favourites that won’t break the bank:
Cycle caps are one of the most inexpensive and effective solutions to keep you comfortable while riding. The cap will help keep you warm, plus protect your eyes from cold wind and rain. Why they are so rarely utilised in Australia escapes me.
For cool to mild weather I prefer to wear a thick cotton cap. For cold to freezing conditions a wool cap with ear covers is your best bet.
Price: $20-40 depending on the material and other options
A good pair of full finger gloves will keep your hands warm and protected on those frigid rides. Plus cycle-specific gloves will provide grip and tactility to ensure you are in full control. I’ve been through a fair few pairs of gloves over the years and the bright coloured or fluorescent options from DeFeet are my favourite so far for all temperatures above freezing.
Use them as a glove liner with a heavier pair of gloves for those particularly frosty rides. As an added bonus, the newest edition of these gloves are designed to work with touch screen electronic devices.
Arriving at your destination with feet that are so cold that they are numb and difficult to walk with isn’t the idea of a good time for most. That’s why you should look at shoe covers.
Personally, I don’t use covers as I have waterproof touring/mountain bike style cycle shoes with thick merino wool socks. But I do highly recommend them for people who ride with normal shoes or non-waterproof bike shoes. Shoe covers, aka overshoes, are great to protect your feet from cold wind and soaking rain.
Generally shoe covers are available in two types; windproof/water resistant, and full water/windproof. For most cyclists in Australia, the basic windproof option is more than adequate. But, if you’re getting drenched by rain on a weekly basis, then I’d also opt for an additional pair of heavy duty covers.
Price: $30-50 depending on the type of overshoe
Yes, there are less expensive or DIY alternatives, but from my experience, I’ve found that these are the best and most effective solutions to ensure comfort over the long term.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on a complete suit of high tech cycling apparel, but it does help to have some key items ready to go so your daily ride is as enjoyable and comfortable as possible.