Cold road race Saturday-what to wear

So I haven’t been in this situation before as I typically avoid cold races, especially with descents. But I’ve been talked into this one…Anyway our race starts at 9:45am and it’s forecasted to be around 40F (for a SoCal native, this is beyond cold for me) at the start, and by the time we finish it’ll be about 50F.

The race starts with a 20-25 minute climb, then 10 minute fast descent with some flat after, and we do it three times. I’m going to get hot and sweaty on the climb, but I’ll freeze on the descent. What do I wear? Wool base layer and arm and leg warmers only? Vest? Neck warmer? Heavier long fingered gloves?

Some of this is personal preference, as you may run warm or cold. What I typically do (as a NorCal rider who moved here from Tucson, AZ and still thinks it’s very cold here) is wool base layer, vest, armwarmers, knee warmers, and shoe covers. My feet get really cold, so shoe covers are a must for me. I would go with short-fingered gloves, though, because if I wear long-fingered ones I will be too hot later–I’ll put up with cold hands at the beginning. Full leg warmers might be ok. It all depends on if you run hot or cold. Also, if there’s sun, remember it will feel a lot warmer, particularly in SoCal.


My concern with the vest is that I’ll have my number on my vest and if I get hot I can’t take it off. And yeah, my core runs hot and I will guaranteed be sweaty at the top of the climbs, but my hands and feet are almost always cold. If my legs get hot though, I really can’t just take those off during a race. I mean, I guess the consensus will probably be to just suffer in the beginning and during the descents but that makes me feel miserable already haha

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Totally get it about the vest. But you can always unzip the vest for the climb, and if you get too hot, you can push down your armwarmers. Or, freeze in the beginning and skip the vest. :slight_smile: Go for the knee warmers–I finally got a pair this year and was surprised to find how much I like them. They will be cooler than full leg warmers.

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I think I will finally have to invest in some. I’ve heard several folks talking about how much better and more comfortable they are. May as well do it now!

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Sunny or cloudy forecast?

As of right now, sunny. Yesterday, it said cloudy. 3 days ago is said snow showers :sob: I’m hoping for that sunny to stick!

Maybe embro your legs to start?

40 is super cold. I agree on your vest comment though.

I’d do warm base layer, wind proof gloves, aero shoe covers. Embro on legs. Aero arm warmers. Maybe a ear headband thingy.

If you have a tight vest it might be good to put the number on that and keep it on the entire time. I’d be worried about damaging the vest. I’d ask about putting it under the vest and telling them you’ll take the vest off after you get going.

So if I do embro on my legs, I don’t wear leg warmers, correct?

I don’t want to damage my vest either and it’s not super tight, so I’ll forgo that. I have a nice wool short sleeve base layer I’ll wear with arm warmers that I can pull down if I get hot.

I have an oddly shaped head and the ear covers never stay where they are supposed to. But I have a buff I’ll use for my lower face at least.

I went out last night at 4:30pm for a fast group ride up here in NorCal and it was 48, sunny, but rain on the horizon so damp and chilly. Wore my knickers (same length as knee warmers), shoe covers, wind proof gloves, thermal arm warmers, short sleeve micro-fiber shirt, summer weight jersey, and a vest. Starting at 40 with a 20 minute climb? I’d probably unzip the vest and jersey a bit at the bottom of the climb and then zip back up at the top.

:grin: i guess it depends on your perspective. A couple of friends of mine are up in Alaska this weekend to start this beast.

Sounds like a good plan. You can pull the buff over your ears also.

Do you run hot when you exercise? I find I do, and as long as I’m moving (I.e. working) I don’t get too cold. Will you be able to pedal on the descents to help stay warm? I find the most important part on the descents is a good pair of gloves. The rest of my body can get chilly, but as long as my hands stay warm I’m good, and everything else warms up pretty quick when the hills come again.

I just have difficulty keeping my feet warm more than anything. Folks recommended the hot sockeez on here. I purchased those but not sure if I noticed a difference. I’ll be wearing some thicker wool socks too.

My trunk and head are what get hot super fast. Especially climbing.

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Make sure your shoes are not too tight. Especially if you wear thicker socks - this can make your shoes even tighter. If this happens, use thinner socks, then add shoe covers.

It looks goofy with knickers / knee warmers, but last night I wore thick wigwam wool socks and feet were very happy!

Merino wool, probably Costco, these ones:

My shoes have room.

I always get cold feet, and use chemical toe warmers:

I put them on the tops of my feet (on top of my wool socks), and also use shoe covers.
This has worked for me very well for a long time, but just like with thick wool socks, you need to make sure you have space in your shoes for them.

Also, regarding the suggestion to use embro… don’t use leg warmers or knee warmers if you use that. I’ve never used it, but a friend has. FYI, there isn’t anything you can do about it once it’s on–you just have to wait for it to wear off/finish.


I’ve also got some cycling merino wool socks, those work well down to 35 degrees as long as I keep moving.

Yes, if you embro your legs don’t put leg warmers on. Test out the embro before you go, and know that it gets hotter if you apply water.

It’s an individual thing too. I don’t really feel much from embro but some people feel legs of fire!

@dhellman how do the toe warmers feel when you’re pedaling? I feel like I would fixate on that slightly different surface and texture that I am pushing on.

@bbarrera I’m not sure how cold my Merino socks are for. Hopefully enough for my toes not to freeze on Saturday!

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Ha! That’s only a little scary to think of trying for the first time the day of my race :joy: maybe I’ll just stick with the knee/leg warmers this go around then investigate into the embro cream in the near future.

On second thought, legs of fire wouldn’t be sooooooo bad in comparison to descending at 40-50mph in 40F weather…


those descents are why you need windproof gloves and a tight fitting vest IMHO. And a thick layer of lip balm before you start!

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