Cold Weather Cycling

Cold Weather Cycling

It’s that time of year again…time to pull the bike into the house for the winter training season.  You just can’t wait for the endless hours spent on the stationary bike trainer in front of the TV waiting patiently for the snow to melt and the temps to rise.  It doesn’t have to be this way though!  In the DMV area there are many opportunities to get outside and ride even when the temps are low and the winds are chilling.

Dress Right

When it comes to training outdoors in the winter it all comes down to how you dress.  Personally I’d rather be warm than cold….call me crazy.  Here are a handful of gear selections that can really make the difference between being comfortable on a ride and being miserable.

  • Booties – Keep feet warm (wind) and dry (rain).
  • Toe covers – Similar in function to booties but only protect the toes, can be used in milder weather
  • Arm warmers – Can be used with a regular short sleeve jersey and taken off if the day warms up
  • Tights or Leg Warmers - Several thicknesses are available.
  • Balaclava or cap/beanie- Make sure it’s not too bulky to fit under a helmet.
  • Jacket - Cycling or Running – vents, hood, water proof, longer in the back and in the arms.

In my experience and training I’ve found that layering your clothing is by far the best way to stay comfortable.  Instead of wearing one thick and warm shirt I opt for two thin layers.  Typically I wear three layers as follows:

  • Inner layer – A thin layer of wicking material to draw moisture away from your skin.
  • Middle layer – A wool blend or a lightweight fleece will protect you from the cold temperatures and create an insulating air pocket.
  • Outer layer – A windbreaker or shell will protect you from the elements. Look for zippered options so if you get too hot you can unzip to cool down or take it off and wrap it around your waist. Remember, even on the calmest days riding along at 15 MPH creates an equivalent relative head wind. 


Whenever you’re training in conditions in which ice is a possibility you must exercise caution.  While I’m a huge advocate of training outdoors when conditions are suitable it’s never a good idea to ride when there’s ice on the trail.  My general rule of thumb is that if the condition of the trail makes you nervous, then don’t ride outside (or find another trail!).

Hope you get a chance to get OUTSIDE this winter! If you have specific questions about cold weather gear, triathlons in general, or are interested in joining our online triathlon community please let Noelle know!

See you on the trails!

Coach Todd

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