Gear to Make Winter Road Biking Actually Fun
The stuff pro winter warriors say they can't ride without
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We asked five pros about their essential winter kit to make riding in frigid temps more bearable—and maybe even kinda fun.
Endura Xtract Jacket ($87)
Ryan Faber, Bike Shop Owner
Ryan Faber, 35, takes his winter rides in the mountains of Boise, where the climbs are steep and the descents long—and especially cold. “If you overdress on the climb, sweat can make you colder on the downhill,” he says. Smart layering is essential, which is where Endura’s lightweight rain shell comes in. “I often find that the downhill is colder than I expect or that the weather shifts unexpectedly, so having that waterproof and windproof layer is a safe guard,” Faber says. “When slipped over other layers, it keeps you crazy warm. It also packs down small enough to fit in a 12-ounce coffee cup and is so light. I keep one in my pack from mid-October to mid-June.”
Sugoi Wallaroo Long-Sleeve Top ($30)
B Vivit, Bike Mechanic
For B Vivit, 29, who teaches bike mechanics at United Bicycle Institute in Ashland, Oregon, the beauty of this base layer is exceptional fabric at a reasonable price. “It’s made with merino wool—odor-fighting, durable, moisture wicking, and affordable,” she says. The material is thin enough to layer comfortably yet thick enough to hold in warmth, making it ideal for the hour-long weekday workouts she puts in during Ashland’s chilly and wet winter. Bonus: This top is also stylish enough that Vivit wears it to work.
Louis Garneau Thermal Cycling Jersey ($90)
Khadijah Diggs, Team USA Triathlete
Atlanta in the winter, where Team USA triathlete Khadijah Diggs trains year-round, can be colder than you’d think. Temps in the high 30s, with wind chill generated from a steady road pace, have Diggs reaching for this cozy outer layer. “It’s fleece on the inside, so it’s warm, but what I love is that it’s not bulky or restrictive, and it fits well over a wicking layer,” she says. Diggs, 48, who is the first African American woman to represent Team USA in long course triathlon and the first Muslim woman to represent Team USA in any multisport event, likes the easy on-off flexibility of the full zipper and pairs the jersey with a turtleneck wicking base layer for added warmth. “If I’m not cold or fretting about the cold, I can keep my mind on my workout,” she says.
Gore Bike Wear Universal Windstopper Leg Warmers ($45)
Brad Huff, Professional Cyclist
Brad Huff, 39, a sprinter for Rally Cycling, a national cycling club, is known among his teammates as the fair-weather rider—the first guy to pull on leg warmers when the weather turns. “My rule is ‘under 60 degrees, cover the knees,’” he says, laughing at his rhyme. Huff, who cut his cold-weather riding teeth growing up in Missouri, believes warm knees lead to better function and stronger workouts, which is why he wears wind-resistant warmers on winter rides in his home of Cortez, Colorado. “These have a thermal fabric that’s thick enough to keep you warm but are light enough to breathe a little. Combine them with thermal shorts, and you’re good to go.” Huff’s go-to Mt. Borah pro-level custom warmers are specially designed for his team, but he says Gore offers a strong windproof and water-repellent alternative.
Ale Sottozero Winter Gloves ($60)
Chloe Dygert Owen, Professional Cyclist
She may be a five-time national champion, but Chloe Dygert Owen is a self-proclaimed wimp when it comes to the cold. “If I underdress, I want to quit the workout, quit the bike, and retire,” says the 21-year-old Olympian, only half-joking. Owen logs four-hour endurance rides in Port Orchard, Washington, where it rarely dips to freezing but is almost always wet in winter. Ale’s toasty-warm gloves—“sotto zero” translates to below zero in Italian—are the difference for Owen between a cranky half-effort and a quality workout. “My first pair were hand-me-downs from my husband [pro cyclist Logan Owen],” she says. “They were warm and safe and snug without being tight or restrictive and now are my go-to.” A windproof shell and long cuffs with Velcro keep the draft out, and a padded palm provides comfort for long rides. Owen credits the glove with changing her view on winter workouts to “building character.”