Long distance riding in the cold?

I am going to need to continue training for SINZ in a couple days after I graduate, and get some back to back long distance rides in (50 miles or so), but winter is approaching and it is starting to get freezing outside. Anyone have any recommendations for clothing or any other accessories to bring while riding in the freezing weather? When I was riding in 40F weather, I was fine except my feet got reallllly cold to the point of being very uncomfortable (I was wearing sneakers). I am assuming that in below freezing weather my face will also get numb and irratable, so I was wondering what people would recommend for that, and for layers and what not.

Any help is appreciated, thanks!

Hi James,

Good to hear you’re training in all conditions :slight_smile: You can expect anything from 30-40degrees celcius temperatures in Central Otago, to chilly, wet weather on the West Coast during the SINZ Unitour.

With wet weather riding- generally speaking, if it rains heavily, you are going to get wet regardless of what you wear. Jackets are good to keep the windchill factor down, but unless they are very good jackets (eg GoreTex), they will either not be breathable or not very waterproof. In both instances you can expect to get wet regardless.

If it’s raining, I usually ride with a layer or two of polypro or other warm layer underneath a cycle jersey. I get wet but I stay warm. It’s also really important to keep your extremeties warm- usually a headband over your ears, warm gloves and socks.

Like Andy:

I like pollypropaline when it’s not really cold, but when it is I go for Polar Tech 100 or 200.

A friend of mine likes Hot Chillies but they are a little pricey for me.

For rain I love my Marmot Pricip Jacket. It’s not “fully” waterproof, but I have never gotten wet while wearing it.

For footwear you could try to find a light-weight, insulated hiking boots and worm, wicking socks, I like SmartWool.

Ever been skiing? Think about that, but on your unicycle! Goggles are probably a good idea in high winds because your eyes take a beating. Also, wear a bellaclava (sp?) which is one of those things that the bank robbers wear, it goes over your head and has a hole for your eyes and nose. There is also a product called The Mask which is neopreme. Im sure that you can find one locally, maybe under a different brand name. I wear one skiing and it keeps the face protected from the wind. I guess that covers the head (literally), but of course you will want something warm, like a skullcap, under your helmet.

Hmmm, on that note, I wonder how wearing a ski helmet would be on a uni, they’re super warm!

Duct tape makes old sneakers much warmer.

There’s lots of good advice here: http://www.icebike.com/Clothing/clothing.htm

Personally, I find that I wear a little less for unicycling than bicycling because I don’t have to deal with the windchill from sustaining 20+ mph.

I ride as long as it’s between 0 and 100 degrees Fh.
It’s all in the clothing.

The first thing you need for this season is 180’s
Nothing will help keep you warm like these!!!

Then you need shoe covers (water proof and wind proof)
Another winner!!

Then you need a mask

Make sure your gloves and outer shell are wind stopper brand as well as water proof, your undergarments should be polyester wicking material to wick away the moisture from your body (shirts, socks and underwear).

That should keep you warm and dry!!

Good Luck!


I find wearing a buff in granny/balaclava mode helps for the head chill, a polar buff if it’s really cold. For foot chill, wearing thicker socks, I wear walking socks or wooly booly socks (made by defeet www.defeet.com ) .

With thicker socks, you have to be sure that your shoes aren’t too tight as you’ll get cold feet from crushed up feet.

Other than that, don’t wear cotton clothes, as they get super cold when you sweat, and take a spare fleece to put on as soon as you stop.

As long as you’re going fast, you don’t need too many layers even in super cold weather, although when you stop it’s important to stay warm.


Yes, these are very cool, very effective, and you can wear earphones under them.

Buffs are good to protect against cold wind


If money is no object, then check out “Toasters” insoles by Sidi. Even with booties on, the bottoms of my feet still start to get cold after an hour or so when its in the twenties or colder.


Stop and pike up a extra hot latte or mocha and it helps warm you back up. They get a kick out of watching you mount up and ride away drinking your expresso.

or you can buy the kind that has headphones in them. Those are great.

you’re in norhtern virginia, so it’s not going to get super cold. mid-20s F would be my guess for the coldest. anyway, here’s how i’d do it. wicking baselayer shirt long sleeved, long jersey top, light vest, light windbreaker. take off either jacket or vest depending on how hot you get and/or the exact conditions. legs, i’d wear some medium weight tights, with some good shorts to ride in. wool socks and shoes that aren’t too ventilated. so more hiking boots than running shoes. balaclava could be good under the helmet, but soemthing like the 180s might work just as well to keep your ears warm, the facemask will help keep the top of your head warm though. maybe a skate style helmet to help keep you warm if you’ve been wearing a more vented bike helmet.

Thanks for everyone for replying.

JustOneWheel: That mask is exactly what I was looking for, Thanks!
However, I went to a bike shop to try on some shoe covers but nothing fit over my sneaker (I think most are made for cycling shoes which arent so wide or bulky at the bottom). I don’t really want to order something without being able to make sure it fits over my shoe.

I might go with some sort of boot like others in this thread have suggested.

bungeejoe: those toasters look great, but yeah money is going to be a factor. It isnt a huge factor, but those are definitely out of my price range for a solution to keep my feet warm.

Ken: I think that I will be fine in NZ as far as temperature goes, I just need to make sure I bring something to protect me against the unpredictable rain! Thanks for your recommendations as well.

Eroick: I have actually only been skiing once in my life, and I didnt use goggles, but I can see how they can come in handy. If my eyes start to bother me after my first cold weather ride I might look into some sort of eye protection.

markf: Yeah Northern VA doesnt get too cold, but it gets cold enough for me to be really uncomfortable. I might do as you suggested and look into a vest of some sort.

Thanks again for everyones advice.

in maine u can expenct anything from dorrentail down puors to blizzards in minus 20