Navigating the Texas Winter

We’ve heard this question a lot: “what school sports are in the winter?” Basketball is what comes to most people’s mind. But here in Texas, thanks to NICA, mountain biking is also a winter sport! And it is outdoors, unlike a lot of other school sports. Throughout the season, high school athletes navigate outdoor trails, embracing the challenges of our Texas weather – from sub-freezing temperatures in January to 100+ in April! Navigating the swinging pendulum of weather in Texas isn’t easy, but there are lots of tips and tricks to make braving every temperature a fun adventure.

Keeping students warm on the bike

Coaches help riders learn how to layer properly and often times donate their own warm weather gear to students. Numerous bike industry supporters also help keep the costs down for families and participants by offering discounts and donations. Veteran coaches know the real trick to keeping students warm is to just keep moving!

Staying warm while cycling in cold weather is crucial for comfort and safety. Here are some essential pieces of cycling gear to keep you warm:

  • Insulating Layers:
    • Base Layer: A moisture-wicking base layer helps keep sweat away from the skin, preventing chilling. Choose one made of materials like merino wool or synthetic fabrics.
    • Mid-Layer: An insulating mid-layer provides warmth. Fleece or softshell jackets are popular choices to trap heat close to the body.
  • Cycling Jacket:
    • A windproof and water-resistant cycling jacket is essential for protection against cold winds and light rain or snow. Look for one with ventilation options to regulate temperature. This is great for wearing during your warm ups and in the staging area, but you will likely over heat wearing it while racing.
  • Cycling Tights or Pants:
    • Insulated cycling tights or pants with windproof panels are crucial for keeping your legs warm. Consider options with thermal linings for extra insulation. #protip: knee pads make great knee warmers!
  • Gloves:
    • Thermal cycling gloves protect your hands from the cold. Choose a pair that provides insulation without sacrificing dexterity, allowing you to operate your bike’s controls easily. #protip: wear a latex glove inside of an insulated glove to add a layer of wind protection and keep your insulated layer dry.
  • Headwear:
    • A thermal cycling cap or a beanie that fits comfortably under your helmet helps retain heat. Cover those ears! These Buffs are some of our favorites because you can use them to cover ears or pull them down for the really cold days to cover your chin and neck area!
  • Footwear:
    • Insulated cycling shoe covers or toe covers are essential for keeping your feet warm. You can also opt for thermal socks to add an extra layer of insulation. #prohack (or cheap college student hack…) if you want to save money, use a wal-mart style sack between your sock and your shoe to create an extra wind blocking layer.
  • Neck Gaiter or Buff:
    • A neck gaiter or buff can be pulled up to cover your face and neck, providing additional warmth and protection from the cold wind.
  • Shoe Covers:
    • Waterproof and windproof shoe covers are crucial for protecting your feet from the elements. They help keep your shoes dry and provide an extra layer of insulation.
  • Layering for Adjustability:
    • Layering allows you to adjust your clothing based on the intensity of your ride and changing weather conditions. Zippered vents in jackets and layers with different thicknesses provide flexibility.
  • Windproof Accessories:
    • Windproof accessories like arm warmers and knee warmers can be added or removed during the ride to regulate body temperature. Vests are the bests!

Race-day tips

  • Get in a solid warm-up ride before the race. Beware though! This will likely cause you to sweat a bit, which will make standing in the staging area extremely cold! Plan to grab a dry jersey after your warm up OR pack a really big and warm jacket for staging and hand it to a coach when it is almost time to go.
  • Keep in mind that you will warm up FAST once the race starts! If you are warm standing at the start line waiting to go, then you will be too hot during your race. Feeling cold and shivering is bad. Feeling a wee bit chilly is good!

Staying warm off the bike

It is well known that Texas NICA races are filled with Saturday evening camp fires!

  • Pack plenty of extra blankets.
  • Plan to wear layers, lots and lots of layers.
  • Get out of wet clothes and into dry clothes as soon as possible.
  • Keep moving (maybe a jumping jack or two).
  • Drink hot drinks – cocoa, tea!
  • Wear a warm hat, no matter how silly it may look!

The best winter hats around!

And of course, if you left your nice warm hat at home… TC Screen printing will be there! Rumor has it that they may even be selling blankets this year!