Tips & Recipes

Keukeleire’s Guide to Cold Weather Rides

The Belgian vet's expert tips

February 2, 2021

Mountain man Alex Howes recently gave us his tried-and-true tips on all things cold weather biking. Now it’s time for Jens Keukeliere to weigh in.

In his first year as a professional, Keukeliere quickly learned just how excruciating a race can be when you’re not properly dressed. “It was the race Challenge Mallorca and we went over the longest climb. It was snowing at the top and I was riding in just bibs and a jersey. Arriving at the top, I was already freezing — and I still had to do a 20 km downhill,” said Keukeliere.

The 32-year-old rider has learned a thing or two since that ride in Mallorca — like even the Mediterranean islands get the occasional winter storm and will require layers. And while the Belgian pro prefers riding in warmer weather climates, he’s still an expert when it comes to biking in inclimate weather. He even enjoys scenic (and challenging) rides in the snow.

More from Jens below on how to best approach your wintery rides ahead:

How cold is too cold to go out riding for you?
When it’s raining or wet, I think everything under 3-5 degrees Celcius is not pleasant. It doesn’t matter how waterproof your clothing is — because after a couple of hours you will get wet. If it’s dry, then you can go a long way with proper clothing.

Do you prefer the heat or colder weather?
I prefer the heat. Even though I prefer warmer weather, I still really enjoy riding in the snow. Because it is dry and you can properly dress yourself. Plus, it’s necessary to ride the snow on heavier bikes, which drops the speed and your body is working harder to keep going.

What do you wear typically on a cold weather ride?
For me, the most important thing is to keep hands and feet warm and dry. Especially because I am sensitive to that. But I know riders that don’t really struggle there. Proper gloves and shoe covers are very important for me. As for the rest of the body I would say that many layers are key to stay warm

Do you think there are benefits to riding in the cold?
I do not. Maybe if you know that you will be racing in very cold conditions, it might be helpful to get used to the cold, but I think the biggest gains you will make is knowing what to wear in those conditions.

How have the weather conditions been for training this winter?
Luckily I’ve been spending most of my winter in Spain so it hasn’t been too bad. It’s very wet and cold in Belgium.

Finally, what’s your best tip on how to endure a cold weather ride?
Put your clothes in a warm place before putting them on. That way everything is nice and warm when you leave. It’s best to start the training as warm as possible, because when you start already feeling cold, it will be hard warming up.

Thanks for these tips Jens and good luck at Etoile de Bessèges tomorrow. We can’t wait to see you put your advice to good use.

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