Northern California winter riding: The Essentials
The recent spell of cold and wet weather here in Northern California has forced me much earlier than normal to buy some new winter riding gear. I generally keep my favorite pieces from previous seasons handy and replace some older duds in favor of trying out the latest and greatest from Rapha & Capo. Winter riding in the Bay Area is a lot like riding in the other 3 seasons: it’s all about the layering.
For example, it’s time to trade in the Rapha Stowaway in favor of the Rapha Softshell jacket, replace the Capo arm skins with something windproof/wind text arm warmers, and maybe even replace cordura shoe covers with the likes of Rapha's neoprene booties. For me, wool wins out over most synthetic materials in many cases as well. My merino base layers from Rapha and Capo Milano skullcap are items I won’t start a cold ride without. They are compact but fundamental.
Here is my Winter Riding essentials:
-Rapha merino short sleeve base layer :(lots of people favor the long sleeve as well). This is the first step in temperature regulation. I wear it religiously. The merino wool is amazingly comfortable, and does a great job keeping you both warm and dry.
-Capo LE arm and LE knee warmers: These have been a staple of mine for years. If I am not sporting knickers, you will be certain to see my knees covered with the LE knee warmers. The wind protection the LE series offers is essential in fighting off the cold and keeping in the heat on a long descent. The anatomic cut for both the arm and the knee warmers helps keep the warmers in place.
-Rapha Classic Softshell: The windproof features keep you warm on the cold descents, the vents and breathability keep you cool on the climbs, and the stylish design keeps you looking good on the road. This jacket is loaded with smart features and the cut on provides a perfect fit
-Capo LE Gloves: After years of looking, I’ve finally found a pair of winter gloves I enjoy riding in. They offer great wind and water protection, but still preserve good tactile sense, which most winter gloves seem to eliminate. The fleece lining and silicone grippers are also great features.
-Capo retro wool cycling cap: Keeping your head and ears warm is crucial in the battle against the elements. Capo’s wool cycling cap does this perfectly. It's visor is a nice touch when the rain begins to fall.
-Rapha Overshoes: Riding with cold wet feat can ruin any ride. Riding with Rapha’s overshoes can bring an end to that problem. The thick neoprene and perfect cut keep all the water off your feet, and help keep the warmth in. Little reflective tape on the heels helps keep you visible on the wet gray days.
-Gore Alp X II Shorts: This is a lightweight, waterproof, breathable outer layer that I will wear over my favorite bibs. I will generally wear them on the mountain bike, but if I am going to be on the road, in the saddle for a long day in the saddle, I will bring these along or just wear them from the start. They also make great short for hiking or other activities in the rain.
When I am dressing for our winter conditions, I place a lot of emphasis on comfortable wicking base layers with warm windproof out layers. Keeping the cold wind off of you helps keep the warmth in. Windproof layers can also save your bacon if you get caught in a surprise rain shower. If you are soaked to the bone, cold winds and long descents are your biggest concern. Windproof layers can help keep you warm in these conditions, allowing you to focus on the road and help maintain feeling in your extremities.
We have the ultimate selection of cycling apparel to get you or cycling-fanatic significant other taken care of this holiday season. Come down to the shop at any point and take advantage of our great offerings. And don’t forget that we are open extended holiday hours through Christmas Eve, Monday-Friday, 10-7, Saturday 10-5 and Sunday 11-5.