How To Ride Your Gravel Bike In Extreme Cold

How To Ride Your Gravel Bike In Extreme Cold

– Here in New England, where we call home, we get a lot of snow and ice
and very cold temperatures. So we have to become
creative, over the years, about how do we go outside
and ride our bikes. There’s fat bikes, there’s
cross-country skiing, there’s all kinds of
things to stay in shape, but we love riding our regular bikes. So we’re at our gravel
bikes with big tires. We get out there in the
snow and in the ice. So today’s video, going
to tell you guys some tips on what I do in case we
get into some trouble, and what I do just to stay warm
while I’m out training here in this nasty cold weather. (logo slams)
(logo whooshing) (gentle upbeat music) The only thing that I like
to change on my gravel setup from when I’m out riding regularly to when I’m out riding in the winter is I’d usually take the
tire pressure way down. We see a lot of snow, pack down snow, ice, sometimes ice gravel mixtures, and basically the only thing
that I can really recommend is either studded tires or
really, really low pressure. I typically ride really low pressure. It also slows you down. You don’t want to be going super fast like you where riding a road bike, that’s not the thing that you
want to do in the winter time because it’s so cold. You want to to bring that speed down, you want to to bring that core
temperature, nice regulated. I’m going to show you guys some ways that I like to do that out on the road. One of the things that we
encounter a lot about here is ice. It’s slippery and it will
send you all over the place. That’s what I was saying I always bring my tire pressure super low to get that big contact
patch on the ground. When I’m climbing on ice it’s
not as much of a fear of mine of falling over because
I’ve got my weight far back, I’ve got that low tire pressure and I’m able to get
traction and get up stuff. It’s when I’m going down hill on ice that I’m mostly sketched out. I want to to be really careful. This would be a time if you’re going to do a lot of riding in the ice that I would recommend
having studded tires because that’s going to give you
the most amount of confidence in tread when you’re out on
nasty slippery conditions. The only thing I can recommend is if you’re going to be
going downhill, go slow. If you do fall it will definitely minimize any injury that you get and then get your weight really far back and get a nice low center of gravity with your hands on the controls. You don’t want to be
grabbing a lot of brake because that will slide you out. Just stay nice, in control, constant modulation on the brakes, keep your weight nice and
far back and your head up. (gentle upbeat music) So two things that I like to do when I’m out riding in the cold weather, you’ve got your big tires
on, got your studs, whatever, you’re going nice and slow. On the climbs though it’s real convenient to regulate your body temperature by just unzipping your jacket, that last layer, as big as you can and then I like pulling off my gloves. You don’t even really
have to take your hands completely off the bars,
you just want to make sure that you’re able to
regulate that body temp. You don’t want to get
everything all clammy and nasty, over sweating them. It’s all about body temperature regulation in the cold stuff. So I usually just tuck my gloves right under my jersey
there, under that thermal, leave those there. (gentle upbeat music) (sighs) And at the top of the big climb, if your skilled you can do
bit while you’re riding. But if you’re just getting
into cycling, just stop, zip your jacket up,
put your gloves back on and continue on. So even though you’re not going
super hard when you’re out on these cold gravel rides, and you’re definitely not going very fast, just like hydration you
want to to make sure that you’re eating something because got to eat the
same way that you would any other time. Even though you’re cold and things aren’t going as
fast as they normally do having a bar, some gels,
banana, peanut butter and jelly, all that stuff applies
even when it’s cold out. (gentle upbeat music) One of the things that
happens a lot of times when you’re riding out
in the cold weather, you forget to drink water. And one of other really
bad things that happens when you’re out in the cold, is that your water bottles freeze. So there’s two ways to mitigate that. One, you can take this, you can stick it underneath your jacket, put it on your back to
stay nice and warm there so that it doesn’t freeze. And, two, you can get up
set of insulated bottles, put some warm water in them
with some tea or some honey, something like that, so
you’ve got some warm fluids, so you constantly drinking. I’d say keep it a little sweet,
maybe some pineapple juice, or some honey and tea. That way you’re constantly
wanting to drink. The biggest thing about
riding in the winter is that you still sweat a
lot, you’re just mitigating it through doing these different techniques. So you don’t get super cold from the evaporation of
the water on your skin, getting cold with the cold air. So definitely think about
hydration and nutrition when you’re out riding in the cold, even though you’re going slower it doesn’t mean that you’re not sweating. (gentle upbeat music) And I’ve got a couple of things
that I always bring with me in case of an emergency. The first thing is what I
like to call this little pack. This packs got pretty much
everything you could want in it. It’s got a neck gaiter, so
that I can put that over, keep all this nice and
warm and my vocal cords. I’ve got my pump that I tuck in there and I kind of wrap in there nice and neat. So that stays in there. Then when I open this up,
this is a thermal vest that I throw right over on the top. I’ve got these charcoal hand warmers, they’re activated by air. And I put these in my gloves and I’ll put these in the front of my toes and I’ll show you guys that
in a second, how I do that. That adds a lot of warmth
right back into the system. So always keep those in emergency. Then I have what I like to
call, the bank robber mask. This really, if it starts to sleet or snow or I get some precip,
that is really essential. Keeps your face super
warm and adds a lot of warmth back into your body. And then a second pair of gloves. If I sweat too much and I’ve
not been able to mitigate it then at that point I’ve just say, okay, I’m going to use my second pair of gloves and that’s going to allow me
to keep my hands nice and warm because sometimes once the
gloves get sweat in them, it’s over you got to put
them in your back pocket, dry ’em and use them another day. (gentle upbeat music) One of the tips that I really like to do is I like to wear to shoe covers. One, one of these cotton
under, kind of right over, just a nice cover that
you typically would wear in the spring or in the summer when it starts to get a little cooler. Then I take one of these
charcoal packets that we got, I put it on top, I lay it over my toes. Sometimes I’ll even put it
right in the shoe there, but then I just put
this right over the top and that gives me a lot of
warmth right in the toes because getting that blood
flow down to those little areas is not easy and especially
when it’s cold out. But I wear two for a couple of reasons. One, I feel like that layer sucks up a little bit of the sweat
that goes on in your foot and down in that area, and,
two, it breaks off the wind. So when the winds coming and
hitting the front of your feet having just that extra layer
there adds a bit of relief, I would say, from the wind and also it gives you a
little bit more protection. You put the cold pack in there. Primo. (sighs) (gentle upbeat music) So those are my favorite tips
on how to get out in the cold, in New England, and
look like a bank robber. All jokes aside though, I have to say, my bank robber mask doesn’t
come out very often, but when it does it is a
beautiful day of riding and it’s super cold
and I’m always so happy that I was able to get out there. It’s a nice time to ride when the roads are all covered in snow and you’re out there
with your low pressure and going nice and slow. You’re not even that
far away from the house, but getting in nice hours
out there on the bike. Most people are skiing
and doing their thing, but you’re out there
enjoying some gravel riding and staying warm at the same time. If you guys enjoyed this video definitely give it a thumbs up. Leave us a comment below,
let me know what you wear. What’s your go-to items when
you’re out there in the cold and nasty stuff if you’re
from a cold climate? I’d love to know what your coldest ride is and what your go-tos are. If you guys want to see
more content like this, check it out over here. If you want to to subscribe to
GCN, click right in the center.

100 thoughts on “How To Ride Your Gravel Bike In Extreme Cold”

  1. Many others have mentioned it here, ski goggles. And fenders, unless you like cold salty slush all over your clothes.

  2. I highly recommend spiky tires for icy surfaces. They not only give stability, but also keep you warm and fit, because you have to overcome additional resistance)

  3. The snap pack looks like a great way to ruin a jersey's pocket. Why not use one of an endless number of bar or frame bags? This is gravel riding, right?

  4. Most public restrooms in the US have hand-dryers. So I always blast some hot air into my gloves before I head back out; they get both dry and warm 🙂

  5. Eh I live in California. So I'm good. We can't afford winter clothes anyway since everything goes to rent 😁

  6. Holy Fkn S*** cycling over Ice is something I can see here and not think about ever… until now. another one to Jpows Kudos!

  7. winter gear is wool socks and real winter shoes, water and wind proof, winter bib tights, wind proof and water resistent. a merino wool base layer with a neck and half zip, merino neck warmer and a good but not to thick head gear under the helmet. lobster style gloves and a good jacket that is water and wind resistent. also, a wind proof vest and a hardshell jacket in the back pocket along with the bank robber mask. studded tiers is essential.

  8. Lots of good advice here even for a long time winter rider. Can’t believe I never thought of putting my water bottles under my thermal jacket. Doh! A couple of things I do differently than Jeremy… 1) I wear winter cycling boots from 45NRTH. 2) I wear a balaclava under my helmet; keeps the neck and ears warm. If it’s really cold I pull it up over my nose.

  9. SCIENCE ALERT: Cold riding sweat compared to warm to hot?? I don't have science on this but as an astute witness to terminology, I believe we sweat to cool down? If we're already cold in winter and we've controlled that with proper layering, wouldn't it stand to reason that we actually need much less fluid in cold weather? Or at least excursion relative? Thoughts?

  10. I'm not sure what my coldest bike ride was. It was probably around 0°F on a quick morning commute to school. My coldest run had a wind chill of -37°F. That was an extreme one and my go to clothing item was ALL the layers

  11. I turn to the mountain bike, the slower the speed the less cold you get. I want to say my coldest is about 12 deg. I also have thermal pants that are great.

  12. I cannot ride with these face masks because my glasses get foggy (and i have to wear glasses for correction, too – so I have a double lens – extremely complicated) – I prefer a Buff ore something in this way that allows a little bit of ventilation.

  13. Camelback with warm fluid/drink. Wear it under the outer layer ( the west) and so the drinking is comfortable and you are kept warm.

  14. Yeah buddy. We used to rock the balaclavas, snowboarding gloves, booties over the cleats, thermal tights, plastic bags over the socks…
    Then we moved to Maui. Come cycle Haleakala! 10,000 ft climb. Short sleeve jersey 🙂

  15. for me its the salt and road chemicals that stop me from getting out… need to buy a cheap (super cheap) used cross bike.

  16. I always forget to unzip my Jacket at the base of a climb, everytime. Just get too excited about the trails ahead 🤟🇮🇪

  17. Nice one Jeremy !!! BTW – These gloves are cheap & effective :~

  18. Studded gravel tires do better than non-studded fat tires in my experience. Here in Maine, where ice can coat everything, I have been trail riding (groomed trails; thank you NEMBA!) on my gravel bike when the fat bikers are yard-sailing all around me. Fat tires don't really float that much, the same way that snowshoes don't really float on powder; they compress it. As long as there is a hard-packed base with less than 4 inches of fluff on top I can do laps around the fat bikers. If there is more than 4 inches of fluff then even the fat bikers struggle.

  19. I go down to -30 and that’s just because that’s about as cold as it usually gets here.

    I will say, taking off gloves and layers is very risky when it’s actually cold. That is precious heat and losing it can mean risking frostbite. The same goes for when you get flats or mechanicals, walk it home before risking frostbite(it really really hurts)

    Second, flats over clipless. Preferably those nice flats with studs in them. Rubber has zero traction on plastic below -10

    Third, low tire pressure helps on ice but honestly 80% of staying upright is core strength keeping you vertical and not spinning out with your rear wheel. Studs really shine, though very knobby tires aren’t to bad(like really knobby, I wouldn’t want to use the light ones in the video).

    Final note, if you are having issues with cold hands and feet you may want to put on another layer on your core. You can’t keep your hands warm if your body doesn’t have warm blood to send to it. I see lots of people go hog wild with gloves and boots but don’t put anything more on he core and they are just as cold.

  20. Excellent advice, and I'm a roadie here in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia. Not at all sure about riding on ice or on snow that might be on top of ice. I've had too many close calls to do that again whatever my tyres.

  21. Thanks GCN. Your efforts are appreciated. These comments crack me up. GCN could do a video about how to cycle in the Arctic Circle in the winter and people would claim that wasn't "real" winter and then brag about how much colder it is where they ride.

  22. Hey Jeremy great video. I’ve changed to SPD shoes for my bikes for the convenience of walking on adventure rides but none of my shoe covers seem designed for SPDs and are wearing out. What do you suggest for shoe covers for SPDs since the sole of the shoe contacts the ground.

  23. A New Englander myself. Always carry extra gloves, beanie, and neck warmer. I can pull the neck warmer up to cover my face on the descents.

  24. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It's been below -30C all week for my 11km commute. Electrically heated gloves, activated charcoal insoles, and balaclava with ski goggle have made my commute possible. Fatbike for the snowy days, winter bike (Nexus IGH, Shimano Roller brakes) to have components work at all temperatures.

  25. I'm from North Eastern Massachusetts and live in Boulder Colorado now. One of the best tips I have heard is to not walk around the house in the sox you are wearing on your ride…they get a tiny bit of moisture and it's hard to warm up once the toes are cold. Also use some foot powder just before putting them on. Makes a big difference!

  26. talks about riding in extreme cold; stands around autumn leaves, green grass, and riding through puddles; unzips jacket and takes off gloves.


    -canadian ex pat living in australia

  27. I commute year around here in eastern washington. The only things that change for winter is I switch to flat pedals with the adjustable pins since I wear boots. And the snow tires go on the bike once we are consistently below freezing most of the time and studs go on once snow and ice are on the ground and they stay on for around 3 months usually. And the coldest has been _12f/-24c.

  28. That vid looks like it was produced during a recent abnormally warm stretch we just had here in western MA – you can see from the remnant snow banks and ice sheets. I've ridden year-round here for over 40 years (yikes, didn't realize I was actually that old …). Biggest challenge is regulating heat, rather than staying warm. Keys for me are 1) windproof, easily ventilated layers – wind front tights on the legs, windshell that zip seals well at the neck, but can be easily opened at neck and cuffs; 2) zip turtleneck so can regulate temp at the neck 3) work gloves with fleece liners for hands; when it's below about 20f I switch to felted wool mittens inside of mitten shells – absorbs sweat and doesn't compact so less conduction through handlebars. My hands are a little sensitive due to frostbite back in the day from winter mountaineering 4) footwear – shoe overs over cycling shoes that are a oversize so that I can wear thicker socks and thicker insoles especially, because conduction through to cleats/pedals. If it's really cold or not going all that long or commuting, I'll wear hiking boots. I use an old cross bike set up w fenders as my winter beater, with combo flat/ spd pedals. I have a dedicated set of cheap wheels with studded tires mounted so that its easy to swap them in as needed. Ditto what j pow sez re tire pressure, although pinch flats suck when it's cold (but at least it will be dark 🙂

  29. I'm from Canada but have been in New Jersey for more than 10 years. Some of Jeremy's advice is spot on, especially the air-activated warmers. I buy the toe warmers for both my feed and hands (they're much thinner and fit better in shoes and gloves). One trick… if you're doing more than one ride in a day (like commuting to work), you can use the same warmers twice. Just drop them in a zip-lock bag after the first ride – squeeze out as much air as you can. I've used them for a second ride 10 hours later with plenty of heat left. I've also invested in a snowboarding helmet with adjustable venting, winter cycling SPD boots, and a number of different weights of gloves and lobster mitts. For temps below 20 deg. F. I use ski goggles rather than wrap around sunglasses. And I've got a few pieces of cross-country ski clothes that work really well.

  30. The other day I made I ride with my bike, my feet started to hurt bad and I thought it was because of my new shoes.
    When I came home I finally saw it wasn't the shoes but my feet were cold like a block of ice 😭
    So yeah use a good pair of socks.

  31. Jeremy is the perfect bank robber! With that legs and skills he will always get away with it. :)) He would be all the polices worst nightmare. GTA next Jeremy as a new character? Or the bike edition of "When the lambs are silent"?
    Great video and thanks GCN and Jeremy!

  32. Here are some tips from Finland for winter cycling up until around -40 celsius&fahrenheit or so.

  33. Thanks JP, fingers and toes are my problem and I like you advice. I will not take extra gloves and layer my shoe covers. Any thoughts about dedicated winter shoes? I've seen them, the are quite pricey for short duration of season, I think it's more economical to use your double cover approach! Thanks and keep up the great content!

  34. Because I use to freeze on my head and my eyes I wear a snowboard helmet and motocross goggles. That keeps my head and ears warm and I have no cold wind in my eyes.

  35. And here I am in Sydney Australia looking out the window before a ride in our winter at 10deg Celsius !
    I need to watch Jeremy in my winter and harden up.

  36. The weather in NC doesn't ever get "extremely" cold, but it's about what you're used to and willing to tolerate. I just switch over to the trainer and Zwift to keep the fun going.

  37. When we used to have winters in Europe, a long long time ago, I never liked it to ride in temps below 0 (32F). It is just not pleasant, no matter what you wear. Nowadays, on a dry day in january it is nice in 7 to 10 C (45-50F). Global warming makes it possible to ride throughout the year!

  38. I can never fit the handwarmer packs in with my shoes, but I put the stick in toe warmers and they work just fine coupled with overshoes to block the wind. Short of bar mits, I haven't found anything to keep my hands warm under 20F.

  39. For 35-15F riding, my go-to layering golden rules are:
    1)  Windproof in the front, vent in the back.  Mullet clothing!
    2)  Windproof top layer, one or two insulating mid layers, moisture wicking base.
    3)  Extreme moisture wicking clothing can be dangerous.  Pull too much moisture too quickly can lead to sudden, dramatic heat loss.

    For specific gear, here are my top unexpected finds.
    1)  Clothing made and marketed for runners, hikers, and cross country skiers are usually more available, better adapted, and higher quality than clothing marketed to cyclists when you are talking about sub-freezing conditions.

    2)  Face masks with valves rated as N95 or better solve all sorts of problems.  Including freezing cheeks/mouth/nose, fogging glasses and goggles, and cold chapped or frostbitten lung injuries.  In particular a mask called "ColdAvenger" is a godsend.

    3) Have long drawstrings on all outer layer zippers so that you can adjust your zippers without taking off your gloves.  Makes moisture and heat regulation much easier.  Without having to stop to adjust. 

    4)  For flat pedal riders (recommended in winter riding), try windproof overshoes that overlap your pant cuffs while still fitting loose.  Solves cold feet issues while avoiding condensation.  NEOS is one example of this type of product.

    5)  When in doubt, go with lightweight Marino wool for base and insolating layers.  Especially effective for the chest.

    6)  Whenever possible, buy mid to high vis colored clothing.  If that is not available, purchase Department of Transportation rated tape and install where you can.  Reflective sidewall tires are highly recommended.

    7)  Midweight Softshells as a windbreaker layer, or multiple lightweight softshells are particularly effective for the front side of the chest and legs.  But need venting or lighter weight back panels to prevent being overheated or freezing on one side or the other.

  40. In Brazil we use the same clothes on 4 seasons. Only add an extra layer, like a jacket windbreaker.
    Here we say we have 4 seasons: Hot, Low hot, very hot and extra hot. hahaha

  41. My winter cycling tips from Finland. 3-layer clothing, stud tyres, flat pedals and never open the zipper or take your gloves off
    when the temperature is below -20 Celsius

  42. Lesson learned: don't live in Canada.
    Haha joke, but I feel lucky by comparison in the UK, it's rarely un-rideable weather.

  43. I like wearing a pair of nitrile gloves under my regular gloves. I don’t like wearing bulky gloves so when it’s really cold or wet the nitrile gloves trap the heat and block the wind. I throw a couple extra pairs in my pocket and switch them out when they get too sweaty cus they don’t breathe.

  44. I ride my gravelbike in extreme cold indoor on Zwift. :l But honestly apart from it being way more comfortable It also makes a lot more sense from a trainig perspective, since I can't go full gas when its cold. My lungs hurt and my nose is constantly runny. And this doesn't even factor in snow and ice.

  45. Surprised you didnt recommend to just go out and purchase a new "extreme cold weather gravel bike." Add it to your collection of other pointless specialty bikes, such as yes, a gravel bike. Studded tires? Two shoe covers? Give me an F'ing break! Just move to SoCal or Florida, you can ride a real bike year round.

  46. Take your gloves off when riding in EXTREME cold! Yeah, really golden advice 🙂 As your arns abd hands are not working during bike ride, but they are in front and on the line of fire (or should I say "wind"), then you fingers will freeze very easily and they are really hard to warm up again. The best way to get some warmth back to your fingers is to do some agressive hand circles to force blood back into hands and fingers.

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