Monday, December 9, 2013

What not to wear

Social media has been all fired up after the weekend on the massive cold front that blasted the entire continent and sent cyclocross racers digging to the bottom of their gear bags in search of rarely used deep cold weather gear. We were all nervous about the conditions going into the weekend. From what I can make of it the racers in Bend and Minnesota had the worst of it with temperatures hovering around the zero degree marker.

I figured I should summarize what went down and share some hard earned experiences that we can all put in our data banks and note books for future review.

Embrocation: To use or not to use? We had a great dialogue with Adam Myerson and John Verheul about the proper use and effects of using embrocation. It boiled down to this. If it's cold and dry, don't use embro, wear thermal fabrics. Although the embro gives you the effect of being warm, it actually brings blood to the surface of the skin and can effectively cool you down. Wet conditions are another story. In the wet the lofty thermal fabric will become soggy with cold water and cool you down. In these cases you'll want to use embro and leave the leg warmers off so the cold water runs off your legs.

I tested it out Saturday in the 12 degree dry conditions at the Iowa Championships and I was very comfortable the entire race without using any embro. I did still use the Donkey Label Recovery Oil which is a non-warming oil that I used for a pre-race massage.

I was really happy with what I wore. For the conditions it was pretty much perfect. Like I said, dry, 12ish degrees, light wind.
Photo: Suzie Green Goebel
Head: I used a Giro winter helmet liner in my Bontager Velocis helmet paired with a Capo Thermal Roubaix Skull Cap. My Spy Screw glasses and a Bontrager Neck Gaitor.

Hands: Castelli CW 3.0 gloves. Unfortunately these are discontinued but they make a CW 3.1 now, not sure how similar it is.

Feet: Under my Bontrager RXL shoes I ran a pair of Capo Euro 200 Wool socks with toe warmers on top of my toes with a second pair of Donkey Label Merino Wool socks on top of that. Not only did the toe warmers provide a little extra warmth but they also covered the vents in my shoes and kept the wind out.

Body: A good long sleeve thermal skinsuit is a must and Capo Custom makes the best one I've ever used. It's so comfy I want to wear them as pajamas but that's another post. Underneath that I used Capo's Torino 3D Thermal baselayer next to skin with their Torino 3D Sub-Zero baselayer on top of that. For the legs I used the Capo Lombardia DWR leg warmers.

I will say I have hand issues. The first three laps were miserable, but by the 4th I'd built up enough core temperature that my hands were mostly warm. Some minor frost bite a few years back has pretty much permanently made my index and middle fingers numb all the time in cold weather.

All in all though, what I wore wasn't bulky and like I said I was comfortable all day. Not to hot, not to cold, just right.


Josh said...

Thanks for sharing Mark. It's super helpful to hear what other's are doing for cold weather gear in these low temps.

Travis said...

Good stuff Mark! I've been able to stay pretty warm on my commutes so far this winter but my hands have given me some issues as well. I've been trying to double up gloves with a pair of split finger mitten type gloves on top and the liners that came with them, but I find the combo constricts blood flow too much and I end up with freezing finger tips until I get my core temp up and then my fingers get better like you experienced. This morning I used only the split finger mittens with nothing underneath and my hands were actually pretty comfy the whole time, though it is a short commute (~5 miles). The lack of dexterity can be an issue though. I can't use Shimano STI shifting with them on cause I can never seem to find the lever to upshift while wearing those gloves. SRAM is doable though. When the budget allows, I'll have to look into those Castelli gloves you use.

MOD 2.0 said...

Keep in mind though this is race wear only. Those Castelli's never cut it on cold weather training rides but are good enough for racing and offer good dexterity.

I'm going to get some Bar Mitts for training. My hands just can't take it anymore

indyredvelo said...

I have been using chemical hand warmers in my shoes and gloves when the temps fall below 25 degrees. Worked very well.

Gary Thornton said...

For general riding (not racing) I have started using the slightly dorky looking (ok majorly dorky) but extremely effective Bar Mitts
They are very effective. Wish they made them for my feet.

Sydney Brown said...

I'm with you, Gary. I consider my Bar Mitts to be last year's best bike accessory purchase and I would love a set for feet.