Surviving Below 0 Rides

icebike-IMG_3387small

Don’t be caught out in the cold looking like this guy!

Here are a few quick tips on how to survive riding in below 0 temps.

1. Cover any possibly exposed skin with Vaseline or Aquaphor
In negative degree winter weather it can take literally a few minutes for frostbite to set in. A thin coating of a petroleum based product on your skin will help put a barrier between you and the freezing cold. It also helps retain moisture so your skin doesn’t get dry and peel.

You can kind of equate it to getting a bad sunburn. OUCH!

2. DON’T WEAR COTTON!
Cotton does a really good job of holding in moisture, that’s not what you want when trying to stay warm and dry. Look for a base layer made of wool or a good synthetic that draws moisture away from your body. The benefit of wool is that even when it’s wet, it’ll keep you warm.

3. Try to wear or at least carry 3 layers worth of clothing.
Ideally you’ll want a good tight for your legs and a base layer for you torso. Find a good mid layer that insulates, but can also still breath. Your outer most layer should be some type of wind resistant pant/jacket combo. A jacket with pit zips is nice to help regulate temperature.

4. Cover your head.
Wearing a balaclava or insulated cycling cap, or a wool stocking cap under a helmet is the best way to go. Balaclavas are usually the best option as they cover more skin and help keep the neck warm as well. The head and feet play a big role in keeping your core body temp in check. Be sure to make sure each of them are properly dressed.

5. Goggles, goggle, goggles.
Did you know your eyes basically survive off of water and body moisture? In freezing temps anything wet will freeze. This includes your eye balls and it’s not fun riding with icicles forming on your lashes and your lids sticking together!

Pick up a pair of cheap ski goggles if you expect to do any riding below freezing. Basic sunglasses simply don’t cut it.

Those are our tips for the day. There are many resources available out there for winter bike riding. We quite enjoy BikeWinter.org. It’s a great resource for learning how to survive the cold while riding. There are also lots of fun local events posted on there for a number of cities. Madison had its own chapter of Bike Winter and Winter Bike to Work Week.

Have fun everyone and please, stay warm!