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Training Tips

Cold Weather Riding Tips

By: Ed Shaw  February 10, 2020

Winter weather is rarely friendly. I know Colorado winter conditions have been very cold this year. If you can avoid being cold, I believe you will ride more often, longer and more consistently. I’ve tried several new ideas. I’d like to share some with you that might help your rides. There’s no need for minimizing during winter base riding.


My first change was to start out with heavier gloves. A friend said she pockets a lighter pair to change into when it warms up. She suggested some interesting places to stow the heavier gloves in that case! Hand warmer packets are amazing. Cost is $1 per pair.

Snowboard gloves, heat packets, electric gloves
Snowboard gloves, heat packets, electric gloves

Some snowboarding gloves come with zip pockets on the back panels for heat packets. If you have circulation issues there are electric gloves that recharge. They’re flexible and have decent heating level vs. battery time.

For device management, use gloves with touch-screen material, or finger licking may be required. Setting my Garmin to “maximum” screen sensitivity improved screen scrolling.


The three-layer system is the best. I choose a winter jacket with 2 under layers. The base layer top should be a long sleeve, with mid or heavy weight moisture wicking material. Crew neck tops are a good choice for this layer.

For the second layer I’ve been using re-purposed long sleeve running tops. Much warmer than a short sleeve jersey. Trimming the length and the sleeves makes them easier to put on and comfortable. A half zipper works great for this layer. When it’s a little warmer I’ll wear the short sleeve team jersey as the second layer.

Modified running tops, good quality warmest grade thermal bib tights


Cold legs are an invitation to the chills, or maybe even muscle strain or tendon issues. Thermal tights come in two weights. The heavier option with thicker thermal fleece and no thin sections are the best. You’ve already got leg warmers.


A winter head cover and a separate ear band are good, also flexible. I have a winter cap with a bill and ear flaps. But the flaps, well, flap! So, I made a strap with Velcro ends and now that cap is a prized possession.

Cap with Velcro strap, detail of stitched Velcro attachment


Nobody likes cold feet: Not on a walk, not on a hike; not in the bed, not on a bike!

On cold morning rides, once your feet get cold, it’s too late to warm them up. I wear winter shoes and wool blend socks, with full thermal shoe covers. Covers don’t have to be heavy or bulky, but highly wind and water resistant, up on the ankle and made with a thermal insulating material. Two pair with one being lighter works well.

Other Things to Consider

Take more nutrition; the cold uses body heat and energy. Eat often during the ride. Drink at regular intervals. You probably won’t be thirsty, but you are exhaling moisture.

So, there you have my two bits worth on our cold Colorado cycling. Three elements of good base periods are: distance, frequency and consistency. The more comfortable you are the more you will ride. And the more you’ll enjoy it!

About the Contributor

Ed Shaw is a USA Cycling Level 3 Cycling Coach from Fort Collins, Colorado. He races for Team Rio Grande Racing in the Masters Age Group 70+. He likes to climb and race time trial. He loves to help riders accomplish something they didn't think they could do like climbing better, completing a tour, racing or just enjoying their bike more. He specializes in annual training plans associated with those goals. For more information contact Ed at 970-443-0352 or