|Perfect clothes for a windy 25 degree gravel ride: skull cap, thick buff, fleece-lined coat,|
thick gloves, windproof tights, and insulated boots.
Investing in a winter riding wardrobe can be expensive, and is best handled by adding a bit each year, especially as technology improves. You'll figure out what you need pretty quick, and the local bike shop and riders will have good ideas for the particulars of your riding area.
The basics of a good wardrobe are: head cap, buff, winter jacket, wool under-garment, winter gloves, windproof pants, and good boots. As temperatures drop, garment thickness increases as do layers.
Always err on too much gear and too thick of gear. Being cold sucks. You can always take things off or adjust as needed.
For the head and neck, a head cap and buff are critical. A good fleece-lined jacket is perfect for cold temps, keeping out the wind and keeping in the heat. You can vary a t-shirt, light wool, or heavy wool under the jacket depending upon the temperatures.
|Head & Neck: Upper left: thick buff. Upper right: thin buff.|
Mid-left and right: Head caps, with and without brim
Very bottom: Helmet rain cap
|Upper garments: Top left: Mid-weight wool. Lower left: light-weight wool.|
Upper right: Fleece jacket. Lower right: Long sleeve jersey.
There are a zillion options for keeping the hands warm. Light gloves, light gloves with mitten covers, heavy gloves, over mitts, heavy-duty mittens, and finally, handle-bar mitts. I prefer heavy gloves if the weather is below 40, and light gloves with mittens otherwise.
|Handle-bet mitts. These are amazing in very cold weather.|
|Different assortments of gloves and mittens.|
|Wind proof tights, full leg warmers,|
and 3/4 leg warmers with tall socks.
|Top: Toe booties. Middle: Shoe booties.|
Bottom: Insulated boots
The now-departed Steve Tilford offered the following winter riding rule: 1 mile for every degree Farenheit. He was professional bike racer, so I adjust to weekend warrior level and for sport. For mountain biking, I adjust this by .4 and for gravel, by .65, and for road, by .75. Still, good advice.
Finally, keep the possibility of mechanicals in mind. Unless you are super burly, stay reasonably close to safety with options for rescue. Changing a flat in 20 degree weather gets you cold real fast, and is both a miserable and memorable experience. And one not worth repeating.
Stay warm and happy riding!