Your favourite piece of clothing?
As soon as the temperature drops, I rarely leave the house without my snood. A small neck warmer that is light but a true comfort blanket.
Gabba... six years later and still a winner for wind and cold.
Metier rain jacket - incredibly warm (I'm always freezing) and the lights make you feel super visible and safe.
Rapha Brevet gilet - warm, packs down small, great for cooler days or warm days with descents. I've even worn it on a ski trip!
My insulated Albion gilet - it's so warm for the winter, fits in my pocket and even looks good worn at work (at least I hope so!)
Lightweight gloves. Mainly like these for the feeling when you can take them off mid-ride as that’s a sign of the seasons changing. Or, early morning on a hot summers day when they get relegated to the back pocket and don’t appear until you’re back home.
How do I dress if it’s going to be wet and cold?
Layer up... my go to is: merino base layer, pro team jacket, rain jacket and cap to keep the rain out. On the feet - merino socks, velotoze to keep feet dry and oversocks over the top.
Starting from the top and assuming it's properly wet and cold...I wear a peaked merino winter hat under my helmet to help keep drips off my eyes/face and clear glasses. I'll layer up on top with a Rapha waterproof jacket on the outside. Thermal tights on my legs with at fabric oversocks and then Rapha waterproof overshoes.
Shoe covers always! Thick/hiking socks underneath insulated leggings if you have them or decent leg warmers with shorts if not. Castelli nanoflex armwarmers are fab if you don't have a decent winter jersey. Always a rain jacket - I love the Gore Shakedry because I like shaking all the rain off afterwards. Waterproof gloves and a neckwarmer if you're prone to the cold.
I dress so I leave the house feeling like I’ve got one layer too few on. That way I’ll warm up to the correct temperature as the ride elapses. If rain is forecast or a cafe stop is on the cards then I’ll roll up a spare outer layer and keep it in my jersey pocket. Thick Waterproof/resistant gloves are a must, but you can help hand temperatures by keeping your core warm with good layers. Castelli are stand out for gloves.
Are there any basics I should know about dressing for the bike?
Layers for cold; if you are slightly cool setting off, by the time you warm up you soon realise you have pitched it perfectly. Don't overdress! A gilet is always a good addition and is simple to throw into your back pocket.
Heart-rate monitors don't go over your boobs. Socks go under your leggings. Glasses go outside your helmet straps (for safety reasons).
If it's wet, a spare pair of gloves in case yours get sodden.
Always have a lightweight packable extra layer in your back pocket in case the weather changes.
Skin on chamois. There should be no layers of clothes between your butt and the padded part of the shorts/leggings. Wash after ever use.
What are the essential items I should own?
When your dressing, you want to start with a solid base. So get yourself some good base layers - you can actually find these relatively cheap.
Always invest in good lights.
Good, comfortable bib shorts, or leggings.
Decent quality bib shorts are number one on my list - worth spending a little more to get a good chamois and fit.
I used to be a fair weather cyclist but winter riding was a revelation to me once I'd got some decent leggings and a windproof jacket. Suddenly I was comfy outside even in the cold. Worth the investment.
A pump that you know works! In terms of clothing; a gilet.
How do you keep your feet warm?
When it's ridiculously cold, it's often impossible to keep your feet fully warm. But I opt for double socks and overshoes. If it's raining, mudguards also stop the cold water from hitting your feet and can make a monumental difference (I learnt the hard way).
Toe warmers and winter overshoe booties on top. Don’t tie your shoes too tight! If you don’t have all the gear, tinfoil over the shoes and covered with an old pair of socks is a valid hack.
I purchased a ridiculously ugly pair of Northwave boots for winter cycling four years ago, they are still doing the job (usually hidden under overshoes!). Always wear merino socks.
Any advice on finding the right pair of shoes?
Just like "normal" shoe shopping, go try them on in store or ask your mates for their opinions.
Try on a lot. And use orthotics if needed. Same with pedals - I love speedplays but they're not loved by everyone.
Do some internet research and try on in person. Try and balance aesthetics with what actually suits your feet!
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