Today marks the first of a series of informational blog posts I will be writing to help make cycling more enjoyable for cyclists in the Johnson County area. Below are some tricks to stay warm I've learned over the past 10+ years of cycling year round. There is a lot to staying warm on the bike, much of which involves choosing the right clothes, but for now we are going to focus on tips that can help you regardless of what type of clothing you have.
1. Start your ride warm! If you keep your bike in the garage or outside, make sure it is ready to go the moment you step out the door. If you spend 5-10 minutes airing up your tires, lubing the chain, and checking it over, you will be freezing before you even start your ride! I recommend prepping your bike first, then going back inside to get dressed and prepare yourself for the ride.
2. Start your ride cold! Wait...what? If you are properly dressed, you should be slightly cold for the first few minutes of your ride. If you start out and you are toasty warm right away, it means you are probably over dressed and will become overly sweaty, and as a result....cold!
3. Ride when its warmest. If you are one of the lucky few who have the luxury of choosing what time of day you ride, wait until the warmest part of the day to ride. Simple, right?
4. Plan your riding week ahead of time. If you are the type of person who sets weekly distance or time goals, take a look at the forecast. If its going to be cold the first part of the week but nice on the weekend, try to ride less during the week and get stuff done so you can maximize your riding time on the weekend.
5. Choose sheltered routes on windy days. If you are a road rider, routes such as the Sugar Bottom Road loop and the Coralville Reservoir loop offer lots of hills and trees to shelter you from the wind. If you are a bike path rider, sections of trail along Muddy Creek and Clear Creek or even the North Shore Lake Macbride Trail offer great wind protection as well.
6. Keep your hands off of metal surfaces. This one seems silly but trust me, your hands will freeze up much faster if you are touching something metal on your bike. If you feel safe doing so, try to keep your hands on the bartape and grips and off brake and shift levers as much as possible. Even with the thickest gloves metal surfaces seem to suck the heat right out of your hands.
7. Ride Off Road! If you have access to a bike that will allow you to ride off road, this is probably the number one way to stay warm. Not only is there almost zero wind in the woods, the increased cardiovascular demands of off road riding will have you toasty warm in no time! Sugar Bottom Recreation Area, Woodpecker Trail in Coralville, and Terry Trueblood Recreation Area in Iowa City all offer great sheltered off road riding to help you stay warm.
8. Keep records. Keep a simple record of what you wore on your ride. Information you want to record includes: time of day, temperature, wind speed, ride duration, type of ride, what you wore, and how you felt. How cold or warm were different parts of your body? How long did it take before your hands and feet got cold? What could you do differently for this temperature range in the future?
9. Ride with friends. Riding with a group can help take your mind off the fact that you are cold. You can also take turns blocking the wind for each other. The more people you can get together the warmer you all will be.
Sugar Bottom Bikes