Time Change and Cold Weather – Winter Mountain Biking Above The Hemisphere

by Robb Sutton

Extreme Mountain Biking - Cold Weather CyclingFor those of you below the equator, you are starting to enjoy warmer weather and prime riding season. For the rest of us up here, we are preparing for that time of year that we wish would come and go quickly…short daylight hours and cold weather. Gone are the after work rides in the sun in favor of riding out in the woods with lights strapped to our heads. The weather is not going to cooperate and we are going to latch on to any ride we can over the coming months to satisfy the need for pedal induced forward motion.

For many mountain bikers, the cold is too much. They hang up the bike and call it a season and look for other outlets to fulfill the need. Whether it be snowboarding, skiing or just sitting in the house with a bag of chips remembering the rides of the past year…these riders let the bike collect dust in anticipation of the coming spring season.

Luckily, I live in the southeast United States where the coldest we will see are temps in the teens. Even if the weekly ride quantity is brought down, I can get out on the weekends and brave the cold weather with the right gear and still get my dirt fix. As we start to dive into the dark season, I wanted to show you guys what have been using to combat the cold and make sure I can see when there is no light available. During this season, I am going to be reviewing/testing multiple products, but here is the list of my tried and true up until this point.

Pearl Izumi Leg Warmers -Sometimes they have a little bit of an issue staying put, but the Pearl Izumi leg warmers keep my legs warm and protected from the outside elements without getting in the way. They also allow me to wear my current lineup of mountain biking shorts that have built in chamois. If you legs get hot during the ride, they come off and stow easily due to their small size when rolled up.

Pearl Izumi Arm Warmers – In the same family as the leg warmers, the arm warmers from Pearl Izumi work as a base layer under a jacket or on their own. They easily fit in a pack or jersey pocket if you get too warm but they provide enough warmth and wind protection for pretty cold temps.

Showers Pass MTB JacketShowers Pass sent over this jacket at the end of last year’s cold season, so I waited to review it until this season as I would get more ride time with it. So far (review will be posted soon), this is the best riding jacket I have ever laid my hands on. It keeps you unbelievably warm but still breathes enough to allow your moisture/sweat escape so you do not feel like you are wearing a trash bag.

Swiftwick Wool Socks -Your feet are the most important part of your body during cold rides because circulation is crucial for comfort. The Swiftwick Four Merino keep my feet warm and comfortable.

Pearl Izumi Shoe Covers – Wind protection is just as important as your socks and the Pearl Izumi shoe covers keep all the warmth in and wind out. I also use the toe covers from time to time.

Jet Lites Blast HID 1000 – Reviewed last year, the Jet Lites Blast HID 1000 is so bright that planes are signaling to land on our local trails when I am out for a ride. Lightweight and bright, this light keeps me off the trees.

REI Brand – Novara Gloves – Honestly, I didn’t feel like spending a load of money on winter riding gloves, so I picked up the Novara’s over a year ago and they have worked perfectly. It is hard to brake if the digits are not working.

Some of the best rides I have had to date are in cold weather conditions, so I challenge you to brave the elements, get the right gear and head out for a cold weather, dark ride. It brings a whole new element into your riding and…you never know…you just may like it.

What are you guys using on your rides?

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