Saturday, December 12, 2009

Racing When it is 20 Degrees (fahrenheit)

Going in to this week's Cyclocross Nationals I wasn't quite sure what to wear. So I brought a bunch of stuff. Here is what I ended up wearing and I think it worked well for the most part.

First off, I feel like a few things should be stated with regard to my preferences for comfort in cold temperatures. I am not trying to be comfortable at the starting line. I don't like to overdress. I saw some guys out there riding this week with jackets and neck gators and so forth. Sorry, I can't ride with that stuff. Too bulky. Plus, I would rather start off on the cold side, but dress just warm enough that after about 10 or 15 minutes I am at a good temp. Basically, with my recommendations you will sort of freeze your butt off before the race starts, but during the race you will be peachy. If you are lucky you will have someone nearby that you can shed a parka upon before the race if you are lining up in these silly 10 to 20 degree racing conditions. Then you only have to suffer for just the final few minutes at the pre-race line up.

I started off with this fine garment:

It is the Craft Pro Zero Windstopper Brief. I only break these out for extreme conditions. These briefs keep my goods from being victimized. Seriously. Here is a quote from Craft:

Gore's Windstopper® fabric at the front
Reduces wind penetration

Yep, I can attest to the fact that while wearing these I was not pentrated by any wind. I felt the wind caress me a bit, but we kept it platonic thanks to these briefs. They retail for around 30 bucks so they are a little steep, but probably worth it if you are around illicit wind.

I also wore this, which is also made by Craft:

It is the ProZero LS Crew Baselayer. I wear this lots when when commuting. It doesn't block wind especially well, but it does a great job of insulating and transferring moisture (sweat) away from your body so that you stay warm. These run about 50 bucks and they are totally worth it. I have a couple that are long sleeved, a couple that are short sleeved, and a couple that are sleeveless. But again this alone under a jersey is not going to cut it when it is 20 degrees or less out there.

Under the Craft Baselayer I wore these on my arms. They are stellar.

The Pearl Izumi TheraFleece Arm Warmers are well known and I see them often at cross races. I recommend buying a size on the tighter side of things so that they don't sag as you are moving around. I rode with them under the Craft baselayer because there was no way I could have gotten them on over any other clothing article. They are pretty windresistant too. All that was between my arms and the frigid air were the base layer and the arm warmers, and if I was honest about it, I could have gone with just the arm warmers.

On my torso I needed something else besides the Craft Baselayer and our team jersey. I wore this, my best addition to my cycling clothing arsenal, the Pearl Izumi Barrier Short Sleeve Baselayer.

It is spendy, about $70, but it works. The front of the baselayer provides protection from the wind. Pearl Izumi's literature says nothing about protecting against penetration, but nonetheless, I felt safe while wearing it. If there is only one thing that I could recommend you buy out of any of these items in this post, this is it. It flat out works. It is comfortable. I stay warmer and more comfortable wearing this garment than my Craft baselayers. Craft also makes a Windstopper Baselayer, but I like Pearl Izumi's better. However, if the temp is over 50 degrees, it is too much, even if it is just that and a jersey. It can get warm with their special material on the front of the baselayer.

I also had on Pearl Izumi ThermaFleece Leg Warmers too.

They work great, lots of people have them. My legs were plenty warm once I got going. 'nuf said.

I had some cheap Performance gloves on, the Scirocco.

I can't say that I love these gloves. They work, but I wore them because I haven't found an alternative I like better for these sorts of temperatures. If the temperature is around 45 or more I will just wear my trusty old Fox mountain bike gloves when commuting for my hour or so in to work and back. But for when it gets below that I use these. I raced with the Fox mtb gloves at PIR last weekend, but it was a little too cold and that race was only 30 minutes long or so. For a longer, colder race I had to use these, I had nothing else workable. I have some warmer Pearl Izume Barrier gloves, but they are too thick to use in a cross race. The Performance glove wasn't too thick, but it doesn't fit my hands especially well, and they just don't feel too "performance" minded. They feel frumpy. Don't ask me to explain that, they just aren't the ideal cyclocross glove. So, basically I got nuthin' to recommend for a sub-freezing cyclocross glove. If anyone has any ideas, let me know.

I also had on a Headsweats TriTech Winter Skull Cap.

It works. It covers my ears. It fits under my helmet. Whatever, I can't get too excited about a skull cap. But, anti-penetration briefs, you betcha.

Finally, I wore these on covering my feet and wool socks. They work great to ward off the cold. If it is pouring, well, not so much for reasons I will get into shortly.

The Pearl Izumi Barrier GTX winter mtb shoe. They kept my feet toasty warm while riding. When I wore them for a while standing in the snow watching the races I felt the cold creeping in a bit, but they still were nice. In the rain, unless you have a rain pant covering the top of the shoe's collar, water slowly seeps into the shoe. Then it takes at least a day or more in one instance to dry out. That sucks. When I wore them with my windproof/water resistant tights one time riding into work, the water just seemed to flow right down my legs and into the shoe. Sure no water gets in from the rest of the shoe, but that is small consolation when your feet are cold and wet. No mater how tight the you strap the top collar down around your ankle the seal is not enough to keep out the water. I have some super cheap booties that I wear over road shoes that do a better job of keep my feet dry. But for the cold--these shoes rock. Just one more thing...they are already coming apart after only being used 5 times. The collar strap is quickly coming unstitched. It didn't affect the shoes use this week, but it sort of irks me that a boot that retails for $250 can't stay together longer. Would I buy this shoe again? Nope, despite its success during the frigid races this week.

Well, that is what I wore along with my bib shorts and my short sleeved jersey. I was fine. Remember, don't overdress and wear stuff that breathes well. And don't get penetrated.


Stephanie said...

I like your reviews but sometimes I wonder if we are really related. ha ha

Mr. Flynn said...

What are you talking about Stephanie? Of course we aren't related. You were adopted...whoops, sorry mom. Let the cat out of the bag on that one. But hey you are 25 it was time you knew about it.

Stephanie said...

Wow. I'm just surprised you know my age. Good job.

Mr. Flynn said...

The hard part was remembering how old I am so that I can subtract the difference in years between us.