We’ve all gotten that text. It’s six in the morning on race day. You’re sipping your last cup of coffee and staring at your closest. The phone pings, and your pal is asking the same question that you’re asking yourself, “So, what are you going to wear today?”
Part of the challenge of Iceman is handling the conditions. Every year is different, and the weather can change drastically in the days leading up to the start. It’s even rather common to see the weather change throughout the morning, with early waves lining up in the snow and later waves lining up in sunshine!
The big temperature swings and variable precipitation means having the right clothing is key. We put together a rough outline of what to wear for a few temps, but with an important caveat. Everyone is different, and what works for one person could be uncomfortable for someone else. Take the next ten days to experiment and get outside for your training rides. See what combination of covers, warmers, and jackets works best for you.
20-30 Degrees. This is the coldest weather you can expect, and that means wear it all. You can always unzip jackets or roll up sleeves, but one you’re on the course, you can’t put anything more on. The biggest focuses here should be feet and hands. At these temperatures, your extremities will be the first to go. Many riders will consider wearing cycling winter boots in addition to wool socks. Wear thick gloves, and bring a chemical hand warmer or two in your flat kit to use in case you have to stop for a mechanical.
Head: Buff or thin cap to cover ears
Core: Base layer, long sleeve jersey, shell jackets
Legs: Themal bibs or leg warmers
Hands: Thick gloves
Feet: Boots or shoe covers
30 to 40 degrees. This is probably the hardest to dress for. You’re almost sure to be a little too cold at the start and a little too hot at least once throughout the race, but when in doubt, warmer is better than cold. That’s because your body’s reaction to cold has a bigger impact than to heat, especially in how it metabolizes calories. These temps are especially important to be able to shed layers, or at least unzip.
Head: Buff or thing cap to cover ears
Core: Base layer, long sleeve jersey, wind vest or jacket
Legs: Knee Warmers or leg warmers
Hands: Thermal gloves
Feet: Shoe covers
40 to 50 degrees. Just a normal ride, right? This one is easy, as you have probably been riding and training in these conditions for a few weeks. Stick with what has worked best for you and resist changing things up too much.
Head: Just a helmet!
Core: Short sleeve base layer, long sleeve jersey or short sleeve with arm warmers
Legs: Bibs, knee warmers optional
Hands: Thermal or normal gloves
Feet: Normal shoes with covers optional
Final note: Remember, there’s more to the forecast than just looking at the daily high temperature. Odds are that you won’t be riding when the day finally gets warm. Check the weather for Kalkaska, not Traverse City, and look at the overnight low. This time of the year, mornings are at their coldest just as riders arrive at the start venue, so bring plenty of clothing to warm up in!