We’ve just come out of a cold snap where temperatures barely sat above freezing for a week. Some of us are happy to retreat inside and sit on Zwift until it blows over. Other, more hardy, riders venture out to brave the icy conditions. Even in slightly warmer temperatures, the wind chill and draft created by riding can lead to riders getting cold. It’s nearly always the extremities that suffer first – the hands and feet. Cold hands are solved by bigger, better gloves or layering up more. Feet are a bit tougher though, with even the best overshoe struggling to keep warmth in sometimes.
The logic of layering up works, although you’re hampered by the amount of room in your shoes when it comes to multiple pairs of socks. If you’ve got too many layers on and your feet feel crammed in, chances are your circulation will be suffering. This in turn may be causing the chills you feel in your feet. Another solution to poor circulation is using something like Tiger Balm on your feet before a ride. The balm increases the blood flow near to the skin which created a warm sensation.
Merino socks are an improvement over your regular thin summer socks too. Toe covers can be worn underneath most overshoes. Then the overshoes themselves need to be fitted well and of reasonable material. Personally, I’m a fan of Velotoze as they always keep your feet dry. They’re notoriously difficult to put on though without some practice. Traditional overshoes are usually good, but up to a point. They’re still a useful additional layer though. I’ve also heard of people putting heating pads into their cycling shoes and the next step in that direction is investing in some heated insoles.
Then you’ve got the big guns. Full blown winter cycling shoes that have minimal air vents and high ankles. People still report getting wet feet in these but you should be able to layer up still with some overshoes for a more complete defence against the elements. They promise to keep the wind and water away from your feet, insulating them somewhat from the conditions. They’re a bit more of an expensive option but might be worth the investment if cold feet are what’s stopping you from riding.