Cold Morning Commute

I know, I know.  It doesn’t snow like this in Orlando.  But with some of the coldest weather of the season so far upon us, I wondered how everyone did with their commute clothing options …

The bank’s digital display read 42 degrees as I began my commute this morning before sunrise.  I wasn’t sure if I had dressed appropriately for the weather, but as it turned out, I was pretty comfy for the 12 mile ride into work.

I started with a short sleeve t-shirt (cotton, I know not the best choice), followed by a base layer of general-purpose  poly thermal pants and long-sleeve top.  For the legs, I added my normal riding shorts over the top of the thermal pants, and over my regular thin-socks added a thick, high-calf sock (again unfortunately cotton, will need to switch that out to a wool blend of some kind) , tucking the thermals underneath it.   Shoes remained the same (a water-type athletic shoe).

Over the top of my thermal tops was a biker’s long-sleeve shirt with a mock-turtle neck, followed by a similar short-sleeve shirt.  I then used some compression arm-warmers, gloves, and took care of my head with a configurable balaclava-type scarf to cover up most of my head, neck and chin area.  Added glasses (to keep wind out of eyes) and of course my helmet.

And …. it worked pretty good.  My core area stayed pretty warm without excessive sweating, and legs were fine except for a little cold around the knee area.  The feet were a little cold — I need to switch to better socks (not cotton).  Head was fine.  Got to find substitutes for the cotton items.  Of course, since all this was layers, I can take off as much as I need for the warmer temps for the commute home.

How are you coping with the cold?  Hoping this cold weather is not keeping your from continuing to commute!!

8 replies
  1. Keri
    Keri says:

    I waited til the sun was warm before heading in 🙂

    I wore my windproof jacket over a T-shirt.

    You do find the best photos!

  2. LisaB
    LisaB says:

    I would have responded earlier, Andrew, but my fingers just thawed.

    I left Maitland at 7 a.m. to ride to a Habitat for Humanity build in Pine Hills (roughly 14 miles). The Walgreen’s marquee said 39 degrees. Despite my leggings, underarmour, jacket and full finger gloves, I was freeezzinggg!!!!. My feet were like ice blocks by the time I reached the job site. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that today’s work wouldn’t be inside, as promised, but exterior work to a home where the walls were just raised.

    I’ve tried everything sold locally to prevent frigid toes — neoprene shoe covers and toe covers, Gore-Tex socks and wool socks. I even wrapped my feet in plastic before putting on my shoes (a trick a racer dude told me about — if you like cold and clammy feet, try it).

    I’m now seriously considering two solutions that may seem extreme to most Florida riders (unless they suffer from cold feet, like I do):

    1. Wire heated insoles from SIDI

    2. Winter road shoes. There aren’t many options on the market, but I found some women-specific shoes from Lake.

    If anyone else has an idea, I’m all feet….I mean ears.

  3. Jean-Jacques
    Jean-Jacques says:

    I am one of those crazy Europeans that still bike at temperatures as low as +5° F without any special “gear”, but I can tell you that your feet get warmer if you keep your legs warmer (because your blood has to pass the legs before reaching the feet). So if your legs are cold, choosing better socks or shoes won’t change anything. 🙂

  4. andrewp
    andrewp says:

    Jean-Jaques: You have my admiration for cycling in cold weather like that!! And I think your tip on keeping legs warm to keep feet warm makes good sense.

    Lisa, my limited cold-weather experience says that when you core area gets cold, it draws heat (actually it slows down circulation) from your extremeties — your hands and feet. So I’d say layer up core and legs to the point that you feel toasty-warm, and then see how your feet do. Remember you can always pull off a layer if you feel you are overheating/sweating.

    Good luck, and keep at it. I know I’m not 100% satisfied with my setup, so I will keep working to refine it.

  5. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    Andrew brings up a useful point about keeping your core warm and provides the validation I learned a few years ago as well. Living in Vermont, six miles south of Canada, provides those extreme temperature changes one moves to Florida to avoid.

    The adage I’ve enjoyed is “to keep your feet warm, put on your hat.” This is because your head is a great radiator and sheds heat your body needs. Keeping your head warm helps keep your core warm and prevents the cut-off of blood to the tootsies.

  6. ebroadbiker
    ebroadbiker says:


    I know everyone says keep the core warm etc but that does not work for me. No blood flow or something. I know that what has worked are those little disposable chemical hand warmer packets. They are harder to find here in Orlando, but look in Wal-Mart or they are at Outdoor World Outlet. I have used them on both my hands and my feet.

  7. LisaB
    LisaB says:

    You know why the disposable hand/toe warmers are hard to find in Orlando? Because I’ve bought all of them over the years! I don’t mind using them on long rides or tours (California and Colorado mornings can be brisk!), but it’s a pricey daily antidote for cold feet.

    Guys, thanks for all your great advice about core temp. But us gals have issues regulating body temp. Core can be on fire while the feet/hands are freezing. It’s a Mars/Venus thing.

    I’ve researched the topic on various bike forums and have a couple of solutions to try out. I bought some silk liners at Travel Country/Altamonte Springs today. I’ll try them with wool socks and, if that doesn’t work, I’ll add a plastic liner between the silk liner and wool sock. I’ll keep ya’ll posted on my experiment.

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