Sunday, June 19, 2011

Winter riding

I hit the road early today and despite being one of the coldest weekends this year I was not cold at all having learned a few tricks to ensure I keep warm.

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Starting at the base layer I wear a thermal shirt rather than a regular t-shirt. I use merino ones which are pricey here but not too bad if you buy from New Zealand and much better than the regular polyester ones. Besides holding the body heat in they breath and wick moisture away unlike cotton which holds moisture.

Next thing is to keep the wind out. If you have jacket that zips to your pants and has genuine windproof zipper then a mid layer may not be needed. All my jackets have zippers which leak air in, even the so called 100% waterproof Alpinestars which also has too small a storm flap inside to stop cold air that comes straight through the zipper so I use a mid layer of a vest from a hiking shop which is is both windproof material and windproof zipper. (edit – I also like the look of mid layer wind proof shirts for bicycle riding)

I tuck both shirt and vest into my winter riding pants. These are a water and wind proof goretex type pant from Alpinestars which actually works well and also has a inner removable thermal liner. (edit – if you must wear jeans then get a pair of long thermal pants to wear underneath, your local BCF has them for next to nothing) I was using my winter pants with the above mentioned matching Alpinestars jacket however despite it leaking in cold air it does not breath very well as the day warms up so basically I have given up on it and have switched to using a lined leather jacket instead.

This leaks in a tiny bit of air in at the zipper but with the inner windproof vest it is not enough to be a problem. It is not as warm as the nylon Alpinestars winter jacket however once the day warms up this jacket is becomes far superior as it breaths and lets you regulate the temperature inside.

Three cheap things that make more difference than anything else I have tried over the years.

No.1 is get a Buff. These neck tube things help seal off the drafts that would sneak down your back, keep your neck warm and can be pulled up over your nose on a very cold morning to keep your lower face/lips warm, stop you getting sniffles from ice cold air and stop visor fog if you have not already treated your visor.  (edit – a scarf can help if you do not have a Buff and there are many different types of Buff things out there so by no means do you need that brand)

No.2 is get glove liners. A set of silk liners are cheap as online and will add some warmth to a regular set of gloves or go further and get proper thermal glove liners. So easy to use then roll up and pop in your pocket once the day warms.

No. 3 is get a pair of good quality winter long socks, and if your feet perspire a lot then get cool max or other thermal wicking type to ensure your feet stay dry or they will be cold. If you ride in short boots then once your pants ride up the wind is going to make your lower legs very cold so look for wind stopper socks, if your local outdoor shop can’t help then bicycle gear is good, try Ground Effect in New Zealand online. (edit – they have good merino shirts and mid layers too)

Oh and lastly make sure your helmet vents are closed. Pretty common mistake this and if I am losing heat via my dome then I never get entirely warm.

And so todays ride. I met my ride buddy from NSW at the Eleanor McDonalds where he who rarely feels the cold conceded it was not a bad idea to warm up a bit first over a hot beverage. I also wanted to shift from the Petrol station meeting place which given we meet not very often is hardly an ideal place to catch up. Coffee aroma beats petrol fumes in my book.

Missed the road I saw on Google maps that loops onto Currumbin valley road and ended up on the Tallebudgera connection road instead. No prbs I like the small hill section of that road a lot. Easy ride over the range and then zigged across Numinbah Rd to North Arm and skirked Murwillumbah town and on to Uki then over to Stokers Siding. Had a blast on Burrinbah and liked it so much turned around and did it again then stopped at Mooball for a rest and the musical toilet.

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The Moo. S-l-o-w-l-y being renovated

Did the secret roads zig zag run north to Duranbah then into Tumbulgum for an early lunch at the café – name of which escapes me but the one two doors left of the pub which has fantastic food - and I don’t often say that. Try their Pizza!

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I’ll be back to get their pizza!

Only a small ride again today, the days are so short that even by 3.00pm when I got home the sun was getting low and besides some days you just want to relax and talk things over. I honestly feel Currumbin southbound and Numinbah northbound are the best way these roads flow for riding which meant repeating the first bit of the Numinbah road out of Murwillumbah, but that’s not a bad thing, those curves before boat harbour creek are great.

Sorry only phone camera photos today. 

Route

7 comments:

  1. IC,

    I am currently in NSW doing a 4 day ride. I start my day at 6am as it gets pitch black by 6pm most days. I rode in in temp down to 0 degrees previously.

    regarding your points, let me made the followng comments:

    1) I use a buff over my balaclava - 2 layers are a lot better for the neck.

    2) i skip silk gloves- they tend to get damaged badly by any velco u have on your jackets - i use a pair fingerless thinly knitted gloves from Kmart underneath a WP thin glove - this combo with heated grip allow me to extensively at less 2 degree;

    3)ALDI sells long Mc shocks once a year - cheap and actually quite good. Put another pair of shocks over the MC shock. works good down to 2c
    -----
    heated grips are absolute fantastic

    Acerider

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  2. Hi Chef and Anon,

    Did tassie in March / April and just did a 3 day NSW trip two weekends ago. Had to wash the frost of the bikes each morning, ride through the fog etc etc and I reckon I'm finally getting close to working my cold weather gear out.
    I used to just use a bally and then learnt of the joys of buff. For a while I would use both but with the purchase of a Foggy mask I now tend to just use the buff.
    A good buff definitely seals the neck area up and in my case helps with the chaffing from the collar velcro of my Ixon jacket (an annoyance that will probably prevent me from buying another Ixon..).

    My base layer is usually a long or short sleeve poly thermal - I'm just hanging out for some merino thermals to show up at the right price - they are pretty scary dollar-wise.
    I've managed to score some of the Diadora and Columbia (preferred) activewear t-shirts on special and they seem to breathe very well, don't hold moisture and do a great second layer.

    Long sleeve T next if needed. I wholly agree with Warren that whatever goes on next has to breathe and I no longer rely on the plastic rain liner of my jacket as a windbreak. I also use a sleeveless high quality fleece next, and/or my jacket winter liner.

    I have found that heaps of thin layers don't restrict my movement as much as when I would wear a jumper and ski-jacket under my Ixon.

    I love my silk glove liners but Anon is right in that the velcro snags on them badly - however I can live with that because they let me wear my summer gloves in pretty well most contitions (handguards probably help me out in that regard too...)

    Heated grips....I wish!

    I find that the only way I can keep my socks up all day is to pull them up over thermal pants. They grip better on the fabric than they can on my skin and don't slide down at all.

    Watching the cold weather dressing ritual of my little group shows that we all have our tricks that we have worked out over the years and seem to work for us. Sometimes you'll see someone do something or someone will share a tip and you'll try it - and sometimes you'll take it on.

    Sort of like blogs and forums. Thanks for sharing guys.

    Good to see your able to take on the longer rides again IC.

    Skitta

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  3. Thanks Acerider, some good tips there, very cold in parts of NSW at the mo, -1 I think in Armidale last time I looked, have a good tour!

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  4. Brrr, it was very cold two weekends back Skitta, I was going to try New England area for few days but then rain blew in.

    I am using a pair of Held gloves which are a hybrid of a full sports armor summer glove with a light weight breathable inner liner. I've got to say they are remarkably versatile and supremely comfortable. I have very thin silk liners and probably could try a pair of the thermal liners made for mountain climbers, I see many styles on Amazon.com

    I am still using the Alpinestars cool max boot socks which are not strictly a winter sock but seem to work well since they wick the moisture away. Tempted to try a pair of their winter boot socks but 'if it's not broken don;t fix it' rule kind of stops me. These things are l-o-n-g - like up to the knees in length so no problems staying up.

    Hands are best I have seen them in years at the moment thanks Skitta, I sure hope it lasts, researching a big ride o/s for next year on the chance they do...

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  5. If you can speak French, check out Reunion. I haven't been there but have had reason to look at the island fairly intently via google maps and google earth.
    Haven't found a motorcycle tour company there, though.

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  6. I wear one of these on the cold days and night...

    http://www.myairblaster.com/MerinoNinjaSuit

    I find with that on I can usually get away with just my jacket/pants on top and I am warm. A buff and some good socks/gloves does indeed make a big difference too.

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  7. The cafe at Tumbulgum is the House of Gabriel. Their pot pie was excellent (4 July)- have photo if needed.

    Have found silk liners don't work for me. I use woollen liners or wool/possum mix when colder.

    Spend the money to get at least one superfine merino long sleeve polo necked t-shirt. No regrets & prayers of thanks. Merino long johns are effective, too. I use a silk jacket as a mid layer to great effect (available in Vinnies from time to time)

    Leather still the most effective outer for me. Add your wet weather gear for extra warmth.

    Mal Gillies

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