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What To Wear Cycling In The Cooler Weather

Ask a Pro — Diane Stibbard

Coach, Personal Trainer, and Two-Time Canadian Duathlete of the Year

Diane Stibbard - two-time dualthlete of the year

Question: “I find it hard to figure what to wear in the cooler weather, what do you suggest?”

Diane’s reply: 
It’s hard to know what to wear this time of year when the day starts out cool and then warms up. Here are a few suggestions for fall and early winter cycling.

1. Dress so you feel slightly cool. As the temperature starts to rise and your core temperature increases, you’ll begin to sweat. That can cause the clothes next to your core to become wet, which stops their wicking ability and leads to chills. The key here is to avoid being overdressed, as you will get too hot too quick.

2. Dress in layers. By dressing in layers you will be able to slowly remove clothing without starting out too cold or getting too hot once you have warmed up. The best advice here is to think in 3’s with both the upper body and lower body
Upper body:
1. Wear a sweat wicking shirt over your sports bra
2. Layer over with a jersey
3. Layer over with either a vest (so the core stays warm) and team with a pair of arm warmers, or a light wind breaker jacket. The wind breaker, the vest and the arm warmers can be easily removed once you have warmed up.

Lower body:
1. Cover the mid-thigh and knees with a pair of knee warmers or leg warmers.
2. Cover your cycling shoes with toe warmers, or booties. There are many varying thickness of booties available which range from 0°– 10°C to -5°– 0°C.
3. Socks are a key element in cool weather dressing. Choose a light weight yet warm wool sock made especially for cycling. The socks that are on the market for hiking tend to be too bulky, and it is not the bulkiness that keeps your feet warm, it is the type of fiber of the sock.

3. The head and hands release the most heat and need to be carefully considered. There are many types of gloves from full five fingered gloves to the “lobster glove” which are two fingered, keeping the thumb and second finger together and the other three fingers together. These can be worn on particularly cold winter days when the temperature drops to -5° – 0°C. For early to late fall, there are many options on the market. Consider wearing a thin silk glove liner under light weight gloves to give the glove a better wicking ability.

The options for keeping your head warm are either a toque or a wicking head scarf. The nice thing about head scarves is they can also cover your neck and they can easily be adjusted once you start to warm up. Some cyclist prefers a toque, as they always feel the chill through their helmets even after the temperature starts to rise. Toques come in a variety of thicknesses as well, so most everyone can be accommodated.

What I have in my fall/early winter cycling clothing drawer.

• 3 types of gloves that will accommodate the following temperature ranges:
• 10° – 5°C
• 5° – 0°C
• 0° C – minus 10°C

• 1 pair of lobster gloves
• 1 pair of knee and leg warmers
• 1 wind breaker jacket
• 1 light weight cycling jacket with rear pockets
• 1 vest with rear pockets
• 2 pair of socks, 1 pair for 0°- 5°C and 1 pair for 5°-10°C
• 1 head scarf and 1 light weight wicking toque

I hope these suggestions for how to dress for cold weather cycling helps to extend your riding season. So get out there and enjoy the beautiful fall season.

Training for a two-day cycling eventDiane provides training programs for recreational and competitive cyclists, duathletes and triathletes, including nutritional counseling and personal training. Does your company need a fitness consultant? Get in touch with Diane to discuss fitness seminars for corporations

You want personal training but don’t live near Diane? No problem. Diane does email and telephone consultations. To learn more, visit Diane’s website or contact her at

Check out Diane’s e-programs: Keeping Fit in the Off-Season and Training For a Two-Day Charity Event For the Time-Starved Cyclist.

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