As we officially part ways with a pretty painful winter, Glen Janetzki from Bicycle Network opens the discussion about riding in extreme cold vs. riding in extreme heat.
Which do you prefer?
It's been relentless! I have to admit that my enthusiasm for the morning commute has been waning throughout this arctic blast we've experienced here in the southern states.
Not helped in the slightest by a few of my bike riding mates who have moved north to Noosa and love to fill our Whatsapp cycling group chat with photos of endless sun and 23 degree days, whilst we shiver through yet another 3 degree start to the day.
It did get me thinking about a day in the not so distant future, probably some time in February, when I'll be riding home into a hot northerly when it's 38 degrees. My water bottle will feel like its got hot tea instead cool refreshing water, sweat dripping in my eyes, and i'll be longing for some cooler weather again!
Australia truly is a land of extremes and we do an amazing job coping with whatever is thrown our way. But it begs the question for bike riders, which end of the extreme weather you prefer? I've broken down some of my thoughts below.
For me it's all about the extremities (fingers and toes) and the core. My arms and legs seem to be able to bare the colder weather. Layering is the best option, with multiple thinner layers recommended as opposed to one or two thick padded layers.
Upper body: I choose a woolen undershirt, and at times have been known to put two undershirts on. Then a standard jersey or even better a fleece backed jersey. On top of that a wind proof outer layer, such as a wind proof gilet, or if it's wet a waterproof 'shell’ style jacket.
Legs: A set of fleeced backed knicks work well but some people are happy if their upper body is warm, they find just a set of knee warmers enough with normal knicks or shorts.
Head: A thin beanie under the helmet helps lock some of the heat in.
Feet: Oversocks or Velotoze (a rubbery water proof cover) to go over my cycling shoes does the trick on my feet. I personally haven’t been the biggest fan of ‘wetsuit’ material style overshoes, my experiences say they’ve just filled with water on rainy day and get very heavy.
Hands: My biggest struggle has always been fingers. I would hate to think about how much money I’ve invested on different styles of gloves only to find them uncomfortable, not wind proof enough, not water proof enough...the list goes on (any suggestions?!). But needless to say, good quality gloves are an absolute must. I’ve settled on a relatively cheap set of woolen DeFeet gloves that seem thick enough to do the job on all but the coldest day.
When it's hot the golden rule is to hydrate. Drink lots, drink often and drink before you feel thirsty. Insulated drink bottles with an ice block or two popped inside can help. I’m not sure if there’s any science in that but its certainly a lot more desirable drinking cooler fluid than lukewarm water from a plastic bottle.
For me, thin, lightweight and breathable clothing works best. Whilst cotton tshirts for casual commutes might seem sensible, they can hold water (sweat), sticking to your body, and don’t breath well. A light sports tech style tshirt or cycling jersey will breath better and not hold as much water.
I've seen some pretty interesting hot weather hacks on the bike over the years. From fancy looking ice vests, to the wet tea towel under the helmet, or a pair of stockings full of ice cubes draped around the neck.
I just try to avoid the middle of the day as much as possible (I know its not always possible).
Obviously use sunscreen and if you stop mid-ride for a coffee or feed, try to remember to reapply. You can get little 30ml tubes at the chemist that easily fit in a saddle bag or back pocket.
WHICH DO YOU PREFER?
Some people just seem to be able to tolerate riding in incredible conditions one way or another. We all have that friend who no matter how cold it is, they're always fine in shorts and a tshirt.
Personally, heat is definitely my kryptonite. I go through so much fluid and sweat profusely... nothing seems to help. But lately this relentless arctic blast has got me dreaming of a hot summer day!
What about you? Can't wait for summer and happy to deal with the 38 degree days, or more than happy to try and keep warm on the bike on 3.8 degree days?
Let us know by checking out the poll on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter below.
To borrow a phrase from our Norwegian friends:
Which translates to: