Tips from the BCS Staff: How to Gear Up for Winter Riding

The days are getting shorter and the temperatures are starting to drop. While it may take a bit more planning to get out for a ride in the winter, it can still be a lot of fun as long as you’re prepared.

James Read, the Purchasing and Inventory Manager at Boulder Cycle Sport, is a competitive cyclist who has been road racing for five years. He lives and works in Boulder and commutes by bike most days of the week and through all kinds of weather.

We met up with him and he shared some of the tips and tricks he has learned over the years to make the most out of winter riding.

Winter Riding Tips

Boulder Cycle Sport: What’s it like being a year-round cyclist here in Boulder?

James Read: We’re pretty lucky to have a lot of great riding days here, but I’ve seen my fair share of equally bad weather. When I moved to Boulder about a year and a half ago I was super impressed to find that after a snowfall all of the bike paths around town are some of the first surfaces to get plowed.

When I’m not on a path, I try to stick to main roads which get taken care of pretty well and are predictable for the most part.


Boulder Cycle Sport: How do you dress for colder riding?

James Read: For most of my commutes I wear the Pearl Izumi PI Dry tights which repels any moisture and keeps my legs dry and warm on nasty days. On my top, I always wear a wicking base layer shirt followed by an insulating long sleeve thermal jersey. On really cold days I’ll add a windproof or waterproof jacket over top. For hands and feet, I wear the Pearl Izumi Escape Softshell Thermal gloves and shoe covers.

In Boulder it takes a lot of planning on winter days because the ride in to work can be 20 degrees Fahrenheit and then warm up to 50 degrees on the way home. So I always make sure to pack a few clothing options so I’m prepared for any condition.


Boulder Cycle Sport: What other gear do you never leave home without in the winter?

James Read: With fewer hours of daylight in the winter, one of the most important pieces of gear to have is bike lights. For commuting or rides that start really early or end late, I use the Light & Motion Urban 500 for a front light and a Knog Blinder rear light. Both are compact and lightweight but super bright, plus they’re both USB rechargeable.

Winter Riding Tips 2

Boulder Cycle Sport: How do you keep your bike maintained and in good shape?

James Read: After a ride in bad weather my bike will have a ton of ice and gunk buildup on it, so I put it in the garage and let it melt for a bit. After a lot of the snow and ice comes off, I use a bucket of hot soapy water to rinse the bike down. The biggest thing to remember is to lube all of the pivot points after the bike has been washed off. I also make sure to check the chain, wipe it down, and apply chain lube.


Boulder Cycle Sport: What do you do when the weather gets really bad?

James Read: I love winter riding because it’s uniquely peaceful to be the only one outside and it’s a really refreshing feeling to crunch through fresh snow. But, when the weather gets bad I do take my training indoors. I ride 14-20 hours a week and when I can’t do it outdoors, I make training more fun by riding a Wahoo Kickr that I hook that up to either Zwift or Sufferfest. These tools offer multiple courses, group rides, and even races which makes indoor riding way more fun.

Winter riding in Boulder
Commuters, Fitness, Health, Training