Winter is here and every other day I got a question what is the best way of dressing for a ride in winter. My take is, it totally depends on what time of the day you are riding, how long is your ride and what is the temperature or forecast on that day.
Let's talk about the different situations one at a time, on a usual weekday ride where you are going to ride for a couple of hours before your work. The usual ride time is 5 am to about 7 and temperature where I live goes down to 0 to 5 degrees. For rides like these, I go with a warm base layer and a winter jersey with leg warmers and if the wind chill is more then a gilet. Here I know I don't have to remove my layers and temperatures are going to be low throughout the ride. Just to give you an idea its a ride between 30-60 km.
Situation two, you are out for a ride which is half a day about 100 to 200 km and you might ride throughout the day. Here I would know that I will start with low temperatures from 0-5 degrees and after sunrise, to noon I will be riding in the sun with temperatures from 7-12 degrees and in the afternoon I will be riding 12-18 degrees which is quite warm during the ride. Here you have no support of any vehicle and you are on your own.
How will you dress up for such a big temperature variation?
The answer is reverse layering! What is reverse layering? In the first case we had warm base layer but here we will not have any warm base layer because we know that during the day it is going to be warm. We will have a normal jersey, hand warmers, a wind blocker full sleeves jacket(ultralight) which you can easily fold and keep it in the jersey pocket when it's not required or its warm. And above all, if required a gilet again a lightweight wind blocker. Now as temperature rise after sunrise you can remove layers and because they are ultra light you can pack them and keep them in your jersey’s back pocket. In this Casey, you can remove layers and hand warmers as and when required. In this case, you are riding in extreme cold conditions and during the warm day as well. Never wear a base layer when you know that you are going to ride in extreme weather variation in one single day.
Same thing you can apply to your riding gloves. You can have one thick glove for extreme cold and wear an inner in normal glove to keep your hands warm during the ride. When temperature rise you can remove the inner layer from the gloves.
It all depends where are you riding and what is the temperature variation during the ride. This is the simple method I follow and keep myself warm and layered during winter rides.