To prepare for packed annual race calendars, PEARL iZUMi Crew members Hannah Shell and Jake Magee ride and train year-round. We asked them to share what helps them get out in winter, when the days are colder and the next race seems far off. Read on for gear recommendations from the pros to keep you riding 365.
As a cyclist, I’ve always relished the opportunity to spend time outside on my bike, but after the pandemic set in, riding outside quickly became my only safe and socially responsible reason to leave the house. Knowing that it can (and does!) still snow in Colorado well into Spring, I’m here to share the gear I rely on to keep riding outside through the colder seasons. Proper cold weather gear can mean the difference between the mental escape of a three-hours of fresh air versus suffering through a three-hour trainer ride in the basement.
The first of my essential items for winter riding is a good baselayer. A baselayer should provide added warmth without compromising breathability or comfort. Most cyclists know that Merino wool is the gold standard when it comes to winter riding. Merino absorbs moisture without the fibers constricting, which means it doesn’t lose its ability to provide warmth as your body perspires during activity.
However, some may find Merino to be uncomfortable and even itchy when wearing it across your entire torso. Luckily, the PEARL iZUMi long-sleeve Merino baselayer solves this problem by attaching a more skin-friendly and recycled polyester fiber to the inner facing layer. This inside material is comfortable to the touch and draws moisture away from the body and transfers it to the outer wool layer, which is how you stay warm! I live in this baselayer during colder weather months. It’s the perfect option for long rides that go from sunny to cold and windy and back again and it’s a piece that makes a huge difference getting me out the door.
I typically pair this baselayer with a winter weight jersey. When I’m getting out for a ride in the cold, I try to choose something that’s both thermal and breathable that also has good-sized pockets for extra gear. For this year, I’m really excited about the Expedition Jersey. I had the opportunity to test the early prototypes last winter and fell in love with how the jersey combines style and function. It has a nice sweater-like appearance, with a comfy thermal fleece inside and five pockets outside for lots of extras–one on the chest for coffee money.
On a typical ride this time of year, I’ll stuff a water-resistant shell jacket and an extra set of gloves into my pockets. If I have gear that I’m excited to wear and I can trust to keep me warm, I’m more likely to push through when it gets below the freezing point.
My secret to success for long hours in the saddle is the PRO Bib Shorts for the lower body. These bibs are not winter-specific, but they are so comfortable I’ll pair them with leg warmers or a set of over-tights for winter rides. There are two key features to the women’s PRO bib that make them an absolutely essential item for me: the drop-tail and the chamois.
Some serious research was put into the drop-tail design, making nature calls simple without complicated and challenging clips, zips or uncomfortable flaps. With these bibs, I don’t think about them being a drop-tail design until I need to, and that’s exactly how it should be. And drop tail in the winter is all the more important to stay warm instead of completely undressing when I need a quick nature break.
Second, the chamois. If you’re making the jump from being a fair-weather rider to a year-round cyclist, I’d recommend putting comfort and quality first to ensure that your body is protected with the increased saddle time. I notice a massive difference in saddle comfort on long rides and no longer feel a need to take breaks or time off for skin to heal from a less than ideal chamois.
A lot of people ask me how I get in so many hours in through the winter, and my answer is always that riding outside in the cold is only uncomfortable if you don’t have the right gear and mindset. The three pieces above help me get more miles in through the entire calendar year, and I hope they’ll help you too. Investing in good gear is a game-changer for outdoor riding. Here’s to more time outside, regardless of the temperature.
Cycling is something I was fortunate enough to discover from a friend’s suggestion. Riding brought an immediate smile and a sense of exploration to the roads near my home in Australia. Now, living in Colorado, getting out on roads, trails and singletrack still brings that same joy I found at the beginning of my cycling journey.
We all know that it’s a bit challenging to keep getting out on the bike this time of year. Probably the biggest issue I have is literally getting out the door. Once I’m outside and my gear takes care of me, I don’t have a problem with bad weather, snow/rain/wind, or whatever… it’s all part of the fun and experience. So many things can lead us to look for an easier option or an alternative, and we’ve all been there, trying to justify these choices in our minds. I’ve even used the excuse of “I don’t want to get my bike dirty!” Haha, lame, I know. But being able to ride throughout the year is something I relish and having the right gear always helps get me out on the saddle.
For deep winter riding, one of the best investments you could make to your riding collection is the Thermal Expedition Long Sleeve Jersey. With a baselayer and possibly a top layer (or shell), it will allow you to ride in comfort throughout the cold season. This piece provides the perfect mix of warmth and breathability due to the fleece in the garment. It moves moisture away from the body so I can continue riding in comfort as the temperature changes.
For me, a typical ride is a late afternoon ride, starting at 5-6pm. Riding in the dark brings a whole new perspective to familiar routes. I love riding at night, even if it’s only for the last several miles of a ride. Having BioViz elements on my jerseys helps keep me seen as I finish a ride in the vanishing light.
Being able to keep getting out on the bike, even when the weather is cooler and the days are shorter, is important for mental clarity. And to decompress from the demands of everyday life. There’s an enormous sense of achievement when the conditions aren’t ideal for getting in the saddle, even for an hour. That’s certainly a feel-good ride for the soul.