Winter Biking: Think Warmth, Not Glamor

Biking in the winter in New Canaan and throughout the Northeast means taking practical, simple measures to keep the elements at bay.


It’s unlikely the Welsh-born English poet George Herbert ever hopped on a bicycle— they were invented nearly two centuries after he died.

But his saying, “every mile is two in winter”, certainly applies to those cyclists not properly attired to face the elements.

So make no mistake, in spite of the recent warmer temperatures, winter will come calling. Because knowing what to wear can help keep enthusiasts and commuters on their wheels The Hub turned once again to Stamford resident for advice.

OK, first for the ears. Norris recommends earbags, or bandless earmuffs. They are available from a variety of on-line retailers such as earbags.com, amazon.com and target.com.

“I absolutely swear by them once the weather changes. You cover up your ears and you can put on your helmet,” Norris said.

To prevent the wind from whistling through his helmet Norris swears by a trick that might not land him on the cover of glamor magazines, but will keep him warm. 

Rather than spend money for a helmet cover, Norris takes hotel shower caps when he goes to a hotel. He stretches it over his helmet and voila: instant helmet cover. To keep it from flapping too much Norris recommends taking a hairdryer to shrink-wrap it. The result, said Norris, is a nearly weightless cover that keeps the icy wind from hitting your head on a ride.

There is a saying, cold hands, warm heart. But when you’re biking, cold hands are just cold hands. It might seem like a good idea to don regular winter gloves or mittens, but try using the handbrake or shifter when your mitt is encased in fleecy puffiness. 

Bike shoes are functional, maybe even fashionable, but they most definitely aren’t warm. For those with cold feet bike shops sell toe warmers.

“They're like little windbreakers for your feet,” Norris said who recently wore a pair on a 23-mile ride from Darien to Westport and back. Also, he suggests people pull full neoprene booties over their bike shoes to cut the chill.

So now that the extremities have been tended too, it’s time to delve a little deeper. . Look for something with polypropylene. If they are made from a silk-like material they may cost a bit more, but they will bottle body heat quite nicely, Norris said.

It’s all about layers, particularly for those wanting to ride when it’s cold outside. Base layer, long sleeved jersey, and windbreaker or winter jacket. There's no need to look like the Michelin man.

may mean attracting a few odd glances, but so long as there’s no snow and ice on the roads it can be done.

“I skip the earbags and wear a neoprene face mask that just leaves an opening for the eyes,” Norris said. “I look like a cross between a superhero and someone cycling from a bank heist, but it keeps me warm.”


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