We’re into December, the icy mornings are beginning to creep in, and sadly they’ll probably continue for a few months yet.
Smugly riding past your neighbours as they scrape the ice from their windscreens (ok, actually on days I have swim training in the morning, that’s me, too..) is great fun, of course, but it is even more enjoyably when you can still feel your fingers and toes.
Here are some accessories that will keep you toasty warm on the colder mornings:
I’ve recommended them before, I’ll recommend them again – I couldn’t sing the praises of these gloves much louder.
The Castelli Diluvio Gloves are made from Neoprene – like a wetsuit, they’re completely sealed, and they aren’t breathable. That means that your hands sweat, and create a layer of warm, admittedly slightly damp, air around your hands. The design of these gloves means they don’t need to be padded out by layers of insulation, making for a lovely light glove that doesn’t restrict your movement or make the handlebars feel miles away.
The term ‘buff’ is used by a lot of brands to describe a tube of material that can be used to keep your nose, mouth, ears and head warm as you ride. Simply slip the buff over your neck, and pull it up as high as you want (not over your eyes..) for instant warm-face. Your own breath creates a lovely little radiator, and the only downside is this can make your glasses steam up even more quickly than normal.
‘Buff’ however, as a term, actually does belong to the company ‘Original Buff’. In the 1970s, Joan Rojas, a textile manufacturer, found himself wearing military briefs around his neck to stay warm, and he decided there had to be another way. Buff now sell hundreds of different styles of neckwear, and the bright varieties with reflective strips are great for commuter cyclists.
SealSkinz are kind of a big deal in winter sock wear – they’re the most well known brand for making quality waterproof socks that are warm and keep out the wind, too.
The Thick Mid Length socks have a merino wool lining which provides moisture control, as well as comfort, and then a Nylon and Elastae outer for more warmth and stretch. The insteps have extra padding to give your feet plenty of support, and ankles are elasticated.
Ever seen a cold looking sheep? Thought not.
The Endura Baa Baa Merino base layer uses fine Merino wool to provide a super warm insulating next-to-skin item that is still light weight, flexible and nonrestrictive, as well as having the famous low odour properties of this magical wool.
The seams are flat locked, so you won’t experience and chafing, and you can pop this in the washing machine without a worry.
As with all base layers, make sure you buy this as quite a tight fit, it is meant to be close to your skin, so as to trap a layer of warm air.
If you’re riding with clipless pedals, you’ll be wearing cycling shoes, which usually have vents. The only exception to this are winter boots, which are very warm, but also rather expensive. Slipping a pair of overshoes over your summer, vented shoes, covers the air holes and gives you a warm, protective layer.
These £55 neoprene booties from Rapha aren’t the cheapest available, but since overshoes spend so much time close to the ground, scraping it when you clip and unclip, quality is key. The neoprene will keep the majority of water out, but it is worth nothing that since there must be holes in the bottom to allow cleats to connect to pedals, no overshoe is ever 100% waterproof.
A common issue with overshoes is the development of a hole at the toe or heal, from contact with the ground (always on the foot you unclip with). Rapha have countered this with a reinforced abrasion-resistant Kevlar sole, and a verse-coil zip works with an updated ankle gripper which has been recently redesigned to keep water from dripping in.
These have been designed for road style cleats, and Rapha recommend you don’t wear them with MTB cleats.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.