In this special edition of Winterized, our cold-weather riding guide, we hear from Kona Adventure team rider Spencer Paxson. Spencer grew up in the Pacific Northwest and has been dealing with cold wet winters his entire life, so he’s got some creative ideas on how to make your winter rides a little more tolerable.
We’re back with Winterized, our guide to making riding in the winter slightly less crappy, and it’s the solstice! That means we can officially celebrate the shortest day of the year along with the first official day of the winter. Bittersweet, that one. We still have a long ways to go before we dig ourselves out of the dark, frozen days of winter, but at least we can take solace knowing that the sun will start to set later and later. When you’re trying to squeeze in those after work rides, every single minute counts.
“Good lights are super important for me in the winter as it gets dark so early. I use an 850-lumen bar light and 1000 lumen headlight from Light and Motion.
I recently bought some waterproof Fox gloves that are awesome! They aren’t super thick or heavily insulated, so they breathe and allow you to retain dexterity, but still keep your hands dry/warm. The Kona winter gloves are also super warm for really cold days.
Smartwool wolly-bully socks for toasty feet
Packable rain shell (mine is an Outdoor Research Helium jacket)
Also kinda random, but my roommate bought me some special “sports detergent” for washing all my gear because it gets extra wet/smelly in the winter.
I normally ride clipless pedals, but sometimes will rock flats when its super cold or snowy as the clips get clogged with snow or freeze.”
Name: Aaron Hogg
Kona gig: Kona Graphics Master
Bike of choice: Honzo ST
How Aaron gets Winterized:
“Because we have fairly mild extremes in Christchurch winter riding isn’t bad, but I do usually spend a lot more time trail building.
- Preheat your shoes and gloves. Keeping your shoes and gloves inside where is warm is pretty obvious but if you can get them up to body temp before going out into the cold you will be much happier. I’ll put all my gear on ~20 min ahead of time to start warming them up and instead of wearing my gloves for that time I’ll slip them under my jersey so they still get body heat.
- Get studded tires for your mountain bike. When it is cold and snowy out I find it much easier to motivate myself to romp around on the mountain bike with studded tires than to ride the trainer or go to the gym or try and find dry roads for a road ride.
- Get a climbing gym membership. Rock climbing is an excellent cross-training activity for mountain bikers in the winter. The indoor gym is warm and dry and it is a fun, safe workout that you’ll want to come back for over and over.
- The best way to keep your feet dry and warm is some Seal Skins socks They are the best socks EVER! RRT £24.99
- For the UK cyclist, they want a good glove that lasts but does not break the bank. Anything made by Endura is a winner. The (Endura Strike glove) is the one I use.
- As for the tyres, Schwalbe Marathon plus for MTB/Hybrid bikes and Durano Plus for road bikes. Very good kevlar tyres run about £34.99- £41.99 each. Food is an easy one. Clif Bar (peanut butter) is amazing. They taste great and give you a long-term energy boost like porridge. Clif Shot Blocks are great for a short-term term boost.
- Something that riders can do that makes a big difference is to clean their brakes after riding in wet conditions. Clean the breaking surface of the wheels and pads on a weekly basis. Then, if they have time, sand the rims down a little bit with some wet and dry sandpaper. This will make the pads last longer and stop the brakes form making a horrid squeaky noise.
- They could also help to stop rust/corrosion by spraying GT85/MO94 or any other good oil on the mechs, cables and shifters. This would help to keep their gears running better for longer. It will also keep their repair costs down. Just be sure not to put oil on any brakes.
Welcome back to Winterized, our unofficial guide for how to make riding in the winter suck significantly less. We’re taking tips from Kona employees and athletes on how they manage to stay warm and dry(ish) in the dark, dank months. So, grab a toddy, stoke your fire, and check out the next iteration of Winterized!
Name: Trevor Torres
Kona gig: Warranty Service/Demo Manager
Bike of choice: Honzo with Maxxis Minions
How Trevor gets Winterized:
Name: Lacy Kemp
Kona gig: Communications Manager/New Kid on the Block
Bike of choice: Process 153 CR/DL
How Lacy gets Winterized:
“I ride a ton in the winter-mostly at night, and mostly alone, so no one hears me complaining about my numb hands. Speaking of numb hands, I’ll start with that. Apparently, I have terrible circulation, so keeping my hands and toes warm is a huge challenge. My saving grace has been Hot Hands Toe Warmers. I use them in my shoes (on the top of my toes) and shove them in the backs of my gloves when things get super cold. I prefer the toe warmers because they are flatter and have an adhesive so they don’t slip around. These things have turned what would have been a miserable day into so many good rides. Buy them in bulk from Amazon for the best deal.
Living in Bellingham means we have a lot of wet to deal with. Getting a good fender setup can be critical to both your vision and keeping your bike cleaner. There are lots of cool companies, but we have a new local company I’m excited about. Ground Keeper is by a Bellingham’s Keely Shannon, who is also part of the brains behind the super artsy Made Rad by Tony name. So, my Process looks awesome even when it’s muddy outside, I’m supporting a local business, and my face and bike are happier.
Another thing I do is deflate my tire pressure juuuuust a wee bit on those super wet days. I’m still learning what pressures work best for me, but with my Minions front and rear, I’m tinkering with around 19ish PSI. I’m a light rider so it’s definitely helpful when the tires grip the grease a bit better with softer rubber.
Lastly, if I’m riding with a pack, I’ll often take an extra jersey and pair of gloves to change into at the top of a climb. Nothing sucks more than dropping into a big descent with a sweaty, cold jersey and wet hands.”
Name: Joey Melweski
Kona gig: Warehouse Manager
Bike of choice:Process 153 CR/DL
How Joey gets Winterized:
“What I like to do to make winter rides more enjoyable:
1. Happiness is a warm rum. Depending on the ride, I’ll fill up a flask with a hot toddy or hot buttered rum. Not only do they taste amazing, it warms up your insides, acts as a hand warmer and gives you some liquid courage!
2. Leave a towel and extra set of clothes in your car. Just knowing they are there when you get back to your car can make a ride more enjoyable.
3. Extra gloves. If it’s cold and rainy, the last thing you want is cold hands. Bring an extra set to change into before you drop in.”
Things like how to keep your feet dry and hands warm…. Merino Socks when cold and damp. Showers Pass Waterproof socks for the really cold & wet rides.
The best winter snack is a flask of bourbon
I like to use Gore Tex Shorts & Jacket. I currently have 7mesh shorts and would recommend them to anyone.
Just get out there. Once you do you’ll be stoked and have fun. Rope as many friends into your ride, and make it happen on a regular basis.
Let’s face it. If you live north of the equator there’s a decent chance you’re stuck in this weather phenomenon we call, “winter.” Perhaps you’re a skier or snowboarder and have hung up your rubber shoes in favor of wooden plans. More power to you. But, for those of you who just can’t quit your bike, we feel you. We feel you because we still have sensation in our fingers from years of trial and error of keeping our bodies somewhat temperate in cold(er), nasty weather. In fact, we have so much wonderful advice for you that we’re launching a series of posts called Winterized. Winterized features tips from Kona employees, partner and pro riders on how to best survive the winter. So grab a cup of your favorite toddy, throw another log on the fire, and soak in the advice. We’ve suffered so you don’t have to.
Name: Kevin Rutherford
Kona gig: Canada Sales/Small Parts
Bike of choice: Process
How Kevin gets Winterized:
Fall/winter is my favourite time to ride! I generally ride my Process all year long, regardless of weather and I run Minions year round.
The key riding gear I find is:
- Warm, semi-lined base layers
- Moto/DH/long legged pants to keep my legs clean, and avoid the mud ‘tan lines’
- RaceFace Agent jacket
- Bag for wet gear after the ride. Anything from a garbage bag to a dry-bag to keep the slop contained and the car dry
A couple dream gear additions would be:
- 5×5 pop-up canopy for changing underneath
- Mini pressure washer, either battery or cigarette-lighter powered
Fenders (road) Open lug treads (MTB)
Microfleece helmet liners
Name: Molly Joyce
Kona gig: Inside sales support,
Bike of choice: Honzo
How Molly gets Winterized:
- Best Drink: Thermos with hot Skratch Green tea electrolyte mix.
- Snack: 100% pure Maple Syrup – the electrolytes and low glycemic sugars give you a more steady boost of energy and it just tastes like the holidays. Untapped has them in shot size packets, or if you are more wary of lots of trash, then a hip flask with maple syrup in it – just make sure you refrigerate it after your ride so it doesn’t go bad.
- Mucky Nuts fenders.
- A vest (Troy Lee Design, Giant, Pearl Izumi etc)– keep the core warm for sure!
- A bandana wrapped around your neck – great for keeping you warm but more importantly for protecting your face on the bitter cold descents, and blowing all those runny boogers out.
- Hand warmers: again, a good trick for warming up your hands if your fingers are frozen.
- Studded tires! Mob around the trails or your frozen streets with nobby, studded tires! The most fun commuting around. Schwalbe Marathon Winters and the Ice Spiker are all rad.
Name: Kevin Thornton
Kona gig: Graphics
Bike of choice: Whichever one has fenders
How Kevin gets Winterized:
That’s it for round one of Winterized. Stay tuned to the Cog over the coming weeks for more cold weather riding tips!