Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cold Riding Tips

Motorcyclists who never learned their mother's lesson to come in from out in the cold have likely read tons of advice about proper layering, maintaining core body temperature, and the never-ending battle with helmet visor fogging. Here are ten more items to consider, hopefully a couple are new to you. All were learned the hard way during many winters riding:
  1. If your jacket's insulating liner allows it, wear it as a separate layer rather than zipped/buttoned into the outer jacket. You'll be warmer and the outer jacket's main closure will be more wind-resistant.
  2. Protect your neck: gaiters, tubes, "cozies", wraps, scarves or balaclavas are brilliant for keeping those big arteries and veins running through your neck warmer. (They also keep you a bit cooler in the heat through shading, plus keep rain, flying and stinging things from getting down your jacket or into your helmet. My neck is covered on nearly every ride year-round.)
  3. Tape up any helmet or jacket vents that allow wind leakage. You're not going to use them in frigid temps anyway.
  4. A rain suit or waterproof glove covers can extend your gear's lower temp range (every piece of gear has it's limits, now matter how hi-tech).
  5. Never keep any gear, including helmets, in the garage/shed overnight. Even worse, if you happen to do that with any Outlast (or similar "phase-change" gel) equipped liners or gloves, you'll stay cold for hours, perhaps all day.
  6. Similarly, never leave your helmet, jacket or gloves on your motorcycle (even in tank bags or panniers) at stops of more than a few minutes.
  7. Avoid sweating like the plague. Don't put on those final layers until you're ready to go out the door. De-layer if you  stop en route to push a motorcycle, fix a flat, take a hike, dance a jig, etc.
  8. Assist blood flow to your extremities by avoiding restrictive boots or gloves (watch those thick socks or liners), or excessive bunching of layers in the knees or elbows. Ensure your levers are adjusted to keep your wrists as straight as possible (most are set too high).
  9. Keep your bladder as empty as possible. Remember that your body has to burn energy to keep all that fluid warm, and the vasoconstriction-induced "gotta pee!" feeling is very distracting.
  10. Be smarter than me, own a bike with enough spare electrical output to support heated gear, ignore most of the above advice and crank up the electrons!
Do you have any tips to share?

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